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Plant Profile: Horsetail Restio (Elegia capensis)

Elegia-capensisA native of South Africa, Elegia capensis is a rhizomatous , rush-like, evergreen perennial with striking foliage and stature. The needle-like leaves are borne in whorls on the bamboo-like stems and are reminenscent of horsetails, giving rise to the common name. The stems (actually culms) have prominent internodes with nodes marked by large sheaths that pull away from the stem with maturity, revealing a shiny white interior. Small white or greenish male and female flowers are produced in spikes on separate plants in spring and summer and turn brown as they mature. The plant grows slowly for the first three years but then picks up the pace to quickly reach its full height and girth. If space is limited, Elegia capensis is best planted in a bottomless container that will restrict the spread of the rhizomes.

Type: Evergreen, perennial, grass

Bloom: Small white to greenish male and female flowers are produced on separate plants in spring and summer

Size: 9’ H x 9-15’ W



Light: Full sun to partial shade

Soil: Average, moist, well-drained

Care: Stems older than three years should be removed.

Hardiness: Zones 7-10

Pests and Diseases: None of significance

Propagation: Division at beginning of the growing season

Companion Plants: Banana, canna, elephant ear.

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