horsetail restio

horsetail restio

Elegia capensis

Scientific name

This restio is a tall, dark green, elegant plant with large, decorative, papery sheaths along the stems.

There is very little attraction in restios for insects. Apart from bees, which are attracted by pollen, the plants provide shelter in between the large bracts for some small beetles.

This plant survives the fires that sweep the fynbos regions by resprouting from its underground rhizome.

Elegia capensis has been in cultivation and commercially available in South Africa from about 1974 and is one of the most popular garden species. Because of the relative ease of seed gathering, there are more species of Elegia available commercially than from any other genus.

Propagation instructions

By seed

E. capensis can be propagated by seed or to a smaller degree by division. The seeds react well to treatment with smoke or with the 'Instant Smoke Plus' seed primer. Without this treatment the germination rate is poor. The plants are best grown from seed, which is produced in large quantities by the female plants. 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.

They may be fed with standard organic fertilizers, a slow-release fertilizer or by sprinkling the surrounding soil with a small amount of ammonium sulfate during the growing season. Sometimes this species will suddenly start to look yellowish, showing a need for a fairly high nitrogen fertilizer.

By cutting

The plants can not easily be subdivided as the root system is very sensitive but large plants can be divided by cutting up the plants in large pieces and planting these immediately.

References and further reading

PlantZAfrica profile »

Image credit: Daderot

Can you help grow this species?

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Important characteristics

Conservation status: Least Concern

This species was selected because it has various important characteristics.

It provides food for:


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