Plant Description

Hypoestes aristata

Hypoestes aristata

A South African member of the broad Acanthaceae family, this shrubby perennial is a cousin to the polka dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya). Hypoestes aristata lacks the decorative leaves of that species but has a mass of mauve flowers which produce a good display in shaded borders in autumn. There is also a white-flowered form. It grows about 1.2 m tall and the flowers are like tiny curled bows: it is sometimes known colloquially as the ribbon bush.

Like most of the Acanthaceae family, this plant copes very well in dry shade, but is grateful to be remembered occasionally with a bit of mulch or fertiliser. It is important to prune it back very hard around mid-August, or it will become very straggly. Frequent tip-pruning can produce a more attractive specimen. It is frost tender, but will grow well in almost all Sydney gardens if sited under some tree cover.

It does tend to self seed, so pull up any stray seedlings that pop up. It forms a good companion to pink and white Camellia sasanqua which are also in bloom in shaded borders in autumn, as well as the various forms of Ruellia which thrive in shade too. It is also effective grown with silvery Plectranthus argentatus, another shade lover. The cut flowers of Hypoestes aristata last for a long while in a vase indoors, creating a pretty and soft effect, as illustrated above.

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Hypoestes aristata
Suitable for Cut Flowers.
Out now in my Sydney garden.
Flowers from April to June.
Plant Family: Acanthaceae

Other Hypoestes