Spekboom is a delight in any garden, as a houseplant, as a hedge, as a ground cover, in sun or partial shade, for the enjoyment of dedicated gardeners or those short on money and water.
The South African succulent has bright red stems, the brightest of small, fleshy leaves, and is particularly beautiful when it blooms in spring.
Kayla Hovelmeier and four of her colleagues at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) have launched a campaign to raise awareness of the Spekboom and all of its amazing benefits.
Hovelmeier said: “Our #WeSpekboom group is dedicated to helping revitalize the planet by sharing knowledge about the many uses of the Spekboom plant and sharing cuttings with friends and families.”
Spekboom is easy to propagate even for the layman in almost any soil and is not fussy about where it is planted. It is a water-rich succulent that, unlike many plants, thrives with little water and care.
“The leaves are also good for dehydration and a rich source of vitamin C.”
Chuma Maqanda, also from the campaign, said they hope people will be encouraged to “plant them and use them in their daily lives to help them and the planet.”
The plant’s ability to efficiently convert carbon dioxide into oxygen has been highlighted in recent years, adding to the list of benefits that should encourage people to incorporate the succulent into their homes and gardens.
The slightly bitter leaves can also be eaten in a variety of ways on their own or in a salad or pesto.
dr Donovan Kirkwood, Curator of the University of Stellenbosch Botanical Gardens, said: “Spekboom is a fantastic, hardy, easy to grow and attractive aquatic garden plant that is available in horticulture in a range of forms from ground cover to tall shrubs.”
The United Nations celebrates World Environment Day on June 5, prompting South Africa to celebrate National Environment Month. It’s an opportunity for the country to stimulate and encourage discussion by “raising awareness of environmental issues and challenging everyone to make a difference,” which the honor students are enthusiastic about doing.
How to prune and plant Spekboom
Unlike many plants, Spekboom does not require special care when cutting (propagating).
- Simply break off a branch and stick it into the ground in a sunny spot.
- Only water the cutting when you remember, less is more with this hardy plant.
- The more cuttings you take, the more the plant strives to replenish itself.
- In just one year you could have several plants from one original plant.
- Cuttings can be placed in containers or planted directly into the ground as long as there is good drainage.
- Place the cuttings close together or further apart depending on how you want the Spekboom to look.
- Enjoy it, especially when the magnificent blooms also attract bees that help our ecosystems to thrive.
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