Elegia Elephantina (Cape Rush)

Endemic to the western Cape in South Africa this is a rush-like plant, part of the Restio family with slightly zig-zag, brown sheathed jointed stems and brown flower tufts in the summer. Please contact us for stock availability and sizes.

Hardiness traffic light amber

Hardiness level Amber

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Endemic to the western Cape in South Africa this arching and clump forming rush is part of the enormous Restionaceae clan and likely the hardiest one to grow here in the UK.

Zig-zag jointed stems emerge from tidy brown sheaths, rising to 1.5m in height and producing a rounded, fanlike spread of 1.2m or so. It does flowers and these are fluffy and partridge-coloured and you’ll get them in the summer.

Given its native habitat the Cape Rush is frequently listed as all sorts of ‘tolerant’ and this is where we’d step in with our handy caveat-dispenser and aim its nozzle at you. ‘Tolerant’ is one of those awkward descriptions which can lead you into thinking that a plonk-and-walk-away approach is fine. Well, it sort of is but to really get the best from this lovely grassy chap there’s some groundwork to do. 

One: while it will grumpily soldier-on through a dry spell and seem relatively unscathed it does appreciate a moist but well-drained position. It will establish faster and resent you less.

Two: it hates root disturbance. Plan for where it will go (we can do that for you) and give it time to establish. It will do this with alacrity, no fear.

Three: Needs full sun. Full stop.

Hit the above and you’ll have a spectacular and happy plant. If we’re designing your garden (do let us, we’re fun) we would advise an irrigation installation and then a jolly good mulch. Start as you mean to go on we always say, and a healthy and established thicket of these plants billowing and sweeping around a curve or up an embankment is a real joy to see and remains very impactful year-round.

Pretty good in wind and this is a good plant for coastal positions where its movement and general airy and reed like ‘atmosphere’ work especially well.

N.B. When clipping several plants with the same tool, have a bucket containing a 5% bleach solution and swish your blades around for 30 seconds between plants to sterilise them. This will help avoid the chance of cross contamination of disease.

As with all woody plants, plant high, exposing as much of the taper at the base of the trunk as possible. Allowing soil to accumulate round the base of a tree can be fatal. Keep very well-watered when first planted.




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