September Plant of the Month: Leucospermum ‘Scarlet Ribbon’

Leucospermum-Scarlet-RibbonAutumn is here, but does it have you yearning for the reds and oranges of fall foliage? Look no further! Our September Plant of the Month is nothing short of spectacular.

Leucospermum 'Scarlet Ribbon' is an evergreen shrub that can reach up to 10-12 feet wide and 8 feet tall at maturity, although it can be pruned before the flush of new growth in spring to keep it more compact. Its vibrant green foliage is tough and leathery, and spirally arranged on the stems. From spring through summer and sometimes into fall, large multi-colored blooms cover the plant. Each flower resembles a salmon-pink pincushion (hence the common name) with shiny scarlet-red ribbons woven through the pins. The flowers are long-lasting and great for cutting, so they make a unique, exotic addition to flower arrangements.

This South African native is a member of the Proteacea family. Leucospermum 'Scarlet Ribbon' is a hybrid between Leucospermum tottum and L. glabrum, first bred in 1974, and originally named 'Bluebeard' in 1983. The genus is named for the fleshy white coating that covers the seeds; Leucospermum is derived from the Greek words 'leukos' meaning "white" and 'sperma' meaning "seed".

Scarlet Ribbon Pincushion will perform best in a sunny location with well-drained, neutral soil. It will also tolerate a partly-sunny spot and a wider range of soil conditions than some other cultivars. Regular irrigation will help it become established, and after that it is quite drought-tolerant. Like all members of the Proteacea family, no phosphorus should be applied to this plant when fertilizing. It is commonly and most successfully propagated by cuttings, but it can also be grown from seed in the appropriate conditions. L. 'Scarlet Ribbon' is considered deer-resistant, and is hardy down to about 25 degrees F. Use Leucospermum 'Scarlet Ribbon' as a focal point in your landscape, or showcase it in a container for a few years!