Planting Palette: Shrub Sparrmannia africana

Planting Palette: Shrub Sparrmannia africana

This large, evergreen, indigenous shrub is a firm favorite which we use in almost all of our gardens. I wish it was more commonly available in retail nurseries but mostly it needs to be ordered on special request.

Occurring naturally throughout both the western and the eastern Cape, it can be found in forests, on hills and along streams and riverbanks. This South African beauty is a member of the Hibiscus family (malvaceae).

During the dreary days of winter, onwards into the spring and early summer Sparrmannia is crowned with numerous small white and yellow flowers.

Placement tips:

This is a large shrub of two or even three meters in height and almost as wide. It is perfect for a number of locations. In the larger garden they can be planted under tall trees where they form a secondary canopy. We use them for screening where they are especially good at obscuring high walls.

They also make excellent informal hedges.
In deep, dry shade their large generous bright, green leaves are perfect at bringing colour and life into otherwise dead and difficult areas.

This versatile shrub also tolerates sunny conditions and in smaller gardens they can be planted as trees to produce welcome shade.

Planting companions:

Sparrmannia have a pronounced, leafy, appearance and can be paired easily with most other plants. They look particularly good when presented with compact or small leafed shrubs.

Use them with Abelia, Azalea, Buddleia, Fuchsia, Hydrangea, Hypoestes, Plectranthus species, Plumbago, Pelargoniums, Roses, Salvias, Spirea, and soft leafed Viburnums.

They make for a great backdrop to low clipped hedges of Buxus, golden Duranta, Myrtus, Murraya, Rhaphiolepsis, Sersia crenata, Syzigium and hard leafed Viburnum. Also consider planting Agapanthus, Lavender and Liriope ‘giant green’ along the foreground of this hedge.

Fine-leafed plants and grasses can also be set against Sparrmannia, so consider Aristida, Coleonema ‘sunset pink’ and Pennisetum.


Sparrmannia africana

Maintenance and care:

Sparrmannia can be clipped into an informal hedge or lifted to resemble a tree in shape. They take well to pruning and sculpture, but be sure to do any cut back in the spring as this is their growing season. They are tough, water wise and insect resilient and so need very little fussing.