Elegia capensis - Horsetail Restio - Indigenous grass - 10 Seeds

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This restio is a tall, dark green, elegant plant with large, decorative, papery sheaths along the stems. It is a good feature plant next to a pond, a swimming pool or in the garden. The stems grow from underground rhizomes, are quite thick, divided into sections (internodes) like bamboo plants and can be up to 3 m tall. At each node there is a circle of clumps of long, needle-like branches, which give the plant its horsetail-like appearance. The young stems also have a large, leaf-like structure or sheath around the stem at each node, which protects the growing point as each section is formed. As the stem grows older, these sheaths become stiff and parchment-like and stand away from the stem. When the plants are nearly ready to flower, the sheaths fall off and leave the stems with a thin line and the long, fully-grown clumps of needle-like branches. This is a very widespread species in or near the mountain ranges of the western, southern and eastern Cape, as far as Port Elizabeth. The plants grow from near sea level to an altitude of 1 600 m in fairly poor, sandy soils but always near watercourses, in seepages on mountain slopes or in areas where groundwater is present. Where there is a lot of water the plants look lush and deep green. With less water the plants are under more stress and they will be smaller with a sparser and more yellowish look. Unless well protected, the plants should not be exposed to frost and require the growing conditions of a Mediterranean climate with a reasonable amount of irrigation. Elegia capensis can be propagated by seed or to a smaller degree by division. The seeds react well to treatment with smoke or with the “Smoke Primer” seed primer. Without this treatment the germination rate is poor. The plants are best grown from seed. The plants adapt to a large variety of soil types but do not like to grow in heavy clay soils or in soils with a clay layer. The best time for planting restios is at the beginning of the rainy season, April-May in fynbos areas. The plants need regular watering to look at their best. They may be fed with standard organic fertilizers, a slow-release fertilizer or by sprinkling the surrounding soil with a small amount of ammonium sulphate during the growing season. Sometimes this species will suddenly start to look yellowish, showing a need for a fairly high nitrogen fertilizer.

For the best germination results with these seeds we recommend treating these seeds with Cape Seed Primer.

USDA Zone - 8

Season to Sow - Autumn / Spring