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What is Leucospermum?

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  • Written By: Dee S.
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2016
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Leucospermum, also known by its common name pincushion, is the genus name for 47 different species of evergreen shrubs. Most species are native to South Africa or Zimbabwe and can be found in a variety of habitats, such as mountainside slopes, temperate woodlands, and subtropical coastal dune areas. The leaves are leathery and usually lance-like or spoon-shaped. They also have dense clusters of brightly colored flowers that resemble pincushions. Depending on the species, the shrubs in the genus Leucospermum can grow anywhere from about 2 feet (.61 m) to 16 feet (4.88 m) tall.

The species that fall in the genus Leucospermum are hard to grow, but if they are grown successfully, they can be quite beautiful. The pincushion-like flowers are often cut and used in floral arrangements. They typically bloom at the end of winter and in the first months of spring and once they are cut, they can live in a vase of water for about one month. The flowers are comprised of large groups of long, thin tubes, similar to the blossom of a thistle. Depending on the species of Leucospermum, the blooms can be found in a wide range of colors, such as white, yellow, pink, orange, and red.

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In general, Leucospermum prefers to grow in mild climates. So, when the temperature dips below approximately 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius), the shrubs should be moved to a temperate or cool greenhouse. Once it is moved indoors, it may best be planted in a mixture of potting soil, perlite, and peat. In addition, it should receive full light and a dose of magnesium for fertilizer for maximum growth.

If it is grown in areas where the weather is mild throughout the year, it can remain outside. In those instances, it should be in soil that drains well and has low levels of nitrates and phosphates. In addition, it typically should be planted in an area that receives full sunlight. Because of its beautiful blooms, if it is grown outdoors, many successful gardeners prefer to plant Leucospermum along the borders of their property or gardens.

As evergreen shrubs, Leucospermum do require a moderate amount of water. In addition, they are susceptible to some diseases, such as root rot and gray mold. Consequently, gardeners must pay attention to the pH levels of the soil and ensure that the soil drains effectively. The gardener may also attempt to prune most species of Leucospermum, especially to shape the shrub and to remove dead blossoms.

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