Thrusters on full....Houston we have lift off! Now, if this isn't an example of inter-plant-a-tary craft, I don't know what is! Daily, I continue to marvel at nature and her design. Here, she takes the beautiful South African Leucospermum or pincushion flower and turns it on its head, literally. Have you ever seen one of these? Me neither, until a few years ago. This is Leucospermum reflexum also commonly known as the Skyrocket pincushion. I'm a bit obsessed with this plant. It works a wonderfully whacked out Dr. Suess vibe.
Leucospermum reflexum is an evergreen, grey-green leafed, shrub in the protea family of plants. It grows into a bushy, somewhat dense shrub that can become about 6 -10 feet tall and wide. Its stems twist and twirl with a corkscrew-like flair. Come spring, buds form and flare like newly formed galaxies at the ends of these stems.
As the out-of-this-world, fiery orange flowers form they begin to take on a pincushion appearance. Reminds me a bit of an electric sea urchin. Now usually most plants in this genus form a flower with all their beautiful bits and pieces (a.k.a. styles: the stalk structure of a female flower part) radiating upward. You might know them from cut flower arrangements. Well, not Leucospermum reflexum. Mother nature decided to switch things up with this species and reflex the styles downward. The end result is very skyrockets in flight. Indeed, one of the coolest flowers I have ever seen. We're talkin' big love here!
Leucospermum reflexum is what I'd call a mod plant. It looks like a plant before its time. Lost In Space meets Barbarella. So chic and very unique! Now, to grow one of these super cool shrubios you need to give it full sun, well-draining, gritty soil, regular to low water, and every once in a while, a phosphorous free fertilizer as protea HATE phosphorous. This shrub can become drought tolerant once established and can handle temperatures as low as 20 to 25 degrees fahrenheit/-3 to -7 degrees celsius. Now, if you like freaky deaky funky flowers and super sexy plant architecture you gotta grow Leucospermum reflexum! Oh, and if the fierce fire of orange doesn't do it for you, there is also a variety called 'Lutea' that produces super starlight skyrockets in luminous lemon yellow. Amazing!