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Plectritis congesta. Wikimedia
Recommended for your garden in the south of Spain: Plectritis congesta
Gardening

Recommended for your garden in the south of Spain: Plectritis congesta

The pretty blooms attract many pollinating insects especially bumble bees and butterflies and, in a mass planting, are very showy

Denise Bush

Malaga

Friday, 24 May 2024, 13:48

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Plectritis congesta, also called Valeriana congesta, is a wild flower native to western Canada and northern California. Common names include sea blush and rosy plectritis.

Plectritis is a member of the Valerianaceae family and is an annual or biennial plant that will form a carpet of rubbery oval leaves during autumn, as the first rains germinate the seed.

From spring and through early summer, it produces slender stems, up to 60cm tall, topped by a sphere of dark pink, perfumed flowers which are ideal for use in flower arrangements. The blooms are tubular but the petals splay open at the end of the tube creating five lobes. At the rear of each flower is a short, curved spur.

The pretty blooms attract many pollinating insects especially bumble bees and butterflies and, in a mass planting, are very showy.

After flowering, seeds form which are dispersed freely with the wind. Once the plant has withered in the heat of the summer, it can be removed but shake the plants gently to release the seeds before discarding. The seeds will lie on the surface (do not cover them as they need light to germinate) and once the rain and cooler temperatures arrive in autumn, they take about two weeks to sprout.

The rosy plectritis needs plenty of sun to flower although it will tolerate some shade. Although moderately drought resistant, watering during the growing season will ensure healthy plants. The better the soil, the bigger the plants will become so feeding with a liquid fertiliser once a fortnight is recommended.

There are no known medicinal uses of Plectritis but other members of the Valerian family have been used in Chinese medicine to help reduce fevers, headaches, skin diseases, inflammation, improve circulation and cure urinary tract infections.

The genus name comes from the Greek 'plektra' meaning 'plaited' which is presumed to refer to the complex structure of the inflorescence.

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