Native Habitat & Cultivation
A valley in the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa
The native habitat of most species diascias is south-eastern Africa from a wide variety or terrain, from mountain stream sides to rocky crags, from shaded areas to sunny grasslands.
They are pollinated by a species of oil-collecting bees called Rediviva. The ones that visit Diascias have specially adapted long forelegs to penetrate the twin spurs that contain oil-secreting glands.
Sani Pass, Drakensberg Mountains
Bees in the UK do not collect oil, so very few diascias here set seed without human intervention, though hover flies do visit them and I have sometimes found and collected seed.
It is rare to find such seed pods and even rarer to capture the seed before it is launched.
Most diascias grow best in moist, rich soil with a sunny aspect. In our experience only one of the species (Diascia integerrima) can withstand being totally dried out at the roots, but almost all are ideal candidates for containers and hanging baskets. The tallest species (D. personata) grows up to 3 feet tall, competing with tall grasses in its native habitat, whilst the lowest (D. anastrepta and D. mollis) grow prostrate forming a carpet of ground cover from September to April. Some of the species have a habit of forming underground stolons through which they multiply.
The foliage of the species ranges from the finest, asparagus-like ferny foliage (Diascia patens) to broad, leathery, rounded leaves (Diascia mollis and Diascia megathura). Most grow to a height of about 12 inches, and form fairly neat clumps, spreading through their underground stolons. They are not known to be terribly invasive here in the UK, and although perennial, many of them have a tendency to disappear if they have been planted for more than three years. Flowers of the species are generally shades of pink. The cultivars have broadened the colour spectrum for diascias and it is now possible to buy them with a colour range from blush white through baby pink, apricot, to brick reds and mauve and magenta. Most bloom prolifically, covering the plants in successive waves of bloom throughout the summer, and as Geoff Hamilton once commented, they literally bloom themselves to death.
Latest update 05 March 2001
Christine Boulby Copyright © 2001 All rights reserved