Herbs & Plants

Coleonema pulchellum

Botanical Name: Coleonema pulchellum
Family: Rutaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales
Genus: Coleonema
Species: C. pulchellum

Synonyms: Coleonema filiforme A.Juss.

Common Names: Confetti bush, Buchu, Diosma or Breath of heaven
Habitat: Coleonema pulchellum is native to South Africa because this plant will grow optimally under a direct exposure of sun light and in well-drained soil condition.

Coleonema pulchellum is woody, evergreen and rather dense shrub that is erect in posture that grows to between 0.8 and 1.6 metres (2 ft 7 in and 5 ft 3 in) high. It forms a single stem at the base, from where numerous thin and erect branches grow. The aromatic leaves are like needles and are 4 to 5 times longer (8-10 mm) than they are wide (0.8 mm). The petiole is 1 mm long. The dwarf variety ‘Dwarf Pink’ grows between 0.6 and 0.9 metres (2 ft 0 in and 2 ft 11 in).

The flowers are solitary, terminal in short axillary twigs or in small twigs, often dense towards the top of the branches. They are pink, often white, and star-shaped (7 to 8 mm in diameter), with 5 oval petals, 5.0-5.7 mm long, each marked with a distinctive central vein. The entire shrub will be covered in pink flowers from May to October, attracting bees, butterflies and other insects. The fruit is made up of a 5-chamber capsule, dotted with glands. There is a shiny black seed in each chamber.


Cultivation & propagation:
Fresh seed is collected from the previous year’s flowers and stored upon ripening. The optimum time for sowing is during autumn. Seed are cleaned and sown on a prepared medium of sand and compost in equal parts in a seed tray. Cover seed with a thin layer of bark and water. Place seed trays in a covered area with good light and ventilation. Keep seed trays damp and germination will take place within 1 to 2 months. Seedlings are pricked out when four true leaves have developed. The growing tips of seedlings are pinched out to encourage bushy growth. Feed buchus regularly with a balanced nutrient. The yellowing of leaves can be treated with an application of iron chelate.

Cuttings have the advantage of producing a larger flowering plant quicker than seedlings. Tip cuttings, 50-70 mm, are taken from the current year’s growth. Prepare cuttings by making a clean cut below the node and remove a third of the foliage. Best time to process cuttings is during winter and spring. Dip the base of the cutting in a rooting hormone.. Firmly place the cuttings in a medium of 50% bark and 50 % polystyrene. Ideally these cuttings should now be placed in an well-aerated propagation unit with a bottom heat of 24° C. Ideally rooting occurs in 9 to 11 weeks. Carefully pot the rooted cuttings using a well-drained, humus-rich, fynbos potting medium (2 parts leaf mould, 1 part coarse sand). Plants will be ready for planting in 7 to 8 months. Feed regularly with a well-balanced nutrient.

Phytophtera cinnamonnii, a soil-borne fungus, attacks the roots of most fynbos species. It prevents the uptake of water causing plants to die. The fungus is most active when the soil temperature is high, especially during summer. Remove infected plants and use soil mulch to reduce the soil temperature. Treat plants with a special fungicide prior to planting out. This is a precautionary measure to control the fungus and to protect adjacent plants.
Best planted in a sunny position, it requires well-drained soil, compost and a well-balanced fertilizer (3:2:1). Plant out in groups of 3 or 5 with enough space to grow. To retain soil moisture and keep weeds to a minimum, add a layer of mulch. Like other buchus, coleonemas are best planted out during winter and spring. They require good watering in winter and moderate watering in summer. Do not allow plants to dry out and once established they will survive periods of drought.
Coleonema pulchellum can be propagated by sowing seed and by taking cuttings.

Medicinal Uses:
The branches and needle-like leaves are very aromatic, and essential oils are extracted commercially from Coleonema alba. The aromatic and deodorizing qualities of the stems and leaves can be used to repel mosquitoes and ants, and to remove odours from hands.

Other Uses:
Aside from being an attractive garden shrub, the foliage can be used in floral arrangements as a filler.
Coleonema pulchellum can be used as an accent plant or in groups to form a hedge or informal border. Use as a filler plant in a mixed fynbos bed with companion plants such as Protea, Leonotis, Metalasia, Felicia, Restio, Euryops, Pelargonium and buchu. Display it in a rockery or grow it as a potplant where it can be pruned to keep it small and neat.
The branches and needle-like leaves are very aromatic, and essential oils are extracted commercially from Coleonema alba. The aromatic and deodorizing qualities of the stems and leaves can be used to repel mosquitoes and ants, and to remove odours from hands. When does the Coleonema bloom?

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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