The water crisis in the Western Cape has everyone thinking about ways to save water or use water more sparingly. When it comes to plants, it’s not always clear which options will still thrive in a dry climate.
“Having indoor plants is a water-wise choice already,” says Andreas Keller, founder of local online nursery Plantify. “Most medium-sized plants (i.e. 30 cm) don’t need more than one to two cups of water per week,” he adds, which can be collected from the water you save while showering or washing the dishes.
Not sure which plant to choose for your home? Andreas shares five options to keep in mind.
1. String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)
A String of Pearls succulent, which looks like a cascading living plant curtain, can reach lengths of around 60 cm. This succulent stores water in its leaves (or pearls). In its natural environment, a String of Pearls grows in the shade of other plants or rocks. As an indoor plant, it’ll enjoy bright, indirect light. Water moderately once a week in well-drained soil and watch your living curtain grow.
2. Asparagus Fern (Asparagus densiflorus)
Every home needs at least one Asparagus Fern, with its bountiful green foliage providing an ideal way to add a pop of green to any home. These South African ferns can handle low light and direct sunlight, making them incredibly versatile. Storing water in their fleshy, bulbous roots, Asparagus Ferns are drought resistant and hardy. Going on holiday? Skip the house-sitter. In all likelihood, your Asparagus Fern will look just as great as when you left. While you’re at home, water once a week.
3. Spekboom (Portulacaria afra)
South Africans have rediscovered this homegrown botanical gem, using it in everything from gin distilling to stews and salads. Known for its medicinal uses, and remarkable carbon sequestering properties, the applications of Spekboom seem endless. As an indoor plant, its fleshy green leaves, red stems and tendency to form a sculptural bush, make Spekboom a visual delight. Its drought-tolerant properties make this succulent a hardy home cohabitant. Place in bright light to direct sunlight and water once every two weeks.
4. Blue Chalk Sticks (Senecio ficoides)
Blue Chalk Sticks is another sculptural South African succulent worth knowing about. Few plants have this colour/shape combination, a silvery-blue hue with an array of elongated leaves. It’ll add contrast and form to a stylish plant collection. Growing in the coastal regions of the Cape, Blue Chalk Sticks are hardy and proliferate well. They’ll be happy in bright light and require watering approximately once a week.
Aloes are popular indoor plants, much loved for their sculptural rosettes of concentric fleshy leaves. During flowering season, an aloe will reward its owners with a striking yellow to red bloom. Storing water in its fleshy leaves, Aloe plants are drought tolerant, and thus an excellent water-wise plant. Place in a sunny spot in your home and water once every two weeks.