How to grow fynbos

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Indigenous and fynbos

South Africa’s famous fynbos is a defining feature of the mountainous Cape and Cederberg regions. 

With over 9,000 species in existence, from the beloved protea fynbos to vibrant heathers, daisies, orchids, irises and the Cape reed, those who wish to try their hand at growing it are spoilt for choice.  

These shrub-like plants are hardy and drought-tolerant and, although endemic to the Cape, can be grown in other parts of the country too.  

When to plant fynbos 

In winter-rainfall areas: establish fynbos plants during the cooler, wetter autumn and early-winter months to prepare them for the dry summer.  

In summer-rainfall areas: plant fynbos in early spring when periods of frost have passed but the weather is still cool.  

Fynbos growing tips 

Here are a few tips to help you grow these indigenous beauties and make them the focus of your garden. 

Light 

Fynbos enjoys full sun and won’t grow well in damp or humid areas. 

Water 

While fynbos plants are fairly drought-tolerant, they need to be well established before they can tolerate long, dry periods. 

Take care to keep the soil of just-planted fynbos moist but not waterlogged by watering two to three times a week. Once the plants are established, watering can be reduced to once a week. 

Soil 

Fynbos enjoys soil that has good drainage. 

The good news for busy gardeners is that fynbos has adapted its root systems to thrive in relatively nutrient-poor soil. 

Fertiliser 

Chemical fertilisers containing phosphorus will damage your fynbos plants, so use a slow-release organic fertiliser instead. 

Potassium and phosphorus hinder the growth of fynbos plants, so avoid feeding them with mushroom compost, bonemeal or any kind of manure. 

Fynbos-growing tips from our experts 

If your garden has slightly acidic soil that drains well (a pH of 5 to 6 is ideal), you can plant most varieties of fynbos in your garden. You can test the pH of your soil by using a soil probe and testing kit, available at all Stodels ranches. 

Mulch around the plants with straw, bark or leaves to keep the soil cool and to discourage weeds from taking over. 

Once your fynbos garden is well established, prune every year after it has completed flowering. 

If you’re planting a fynbos plant from a pot into the ground, avoid disturbing its roots, as the fynbos root system is sensitive. 

Did you know? While fynbos only covers about 6.7% of South Africa, it has the largest number of plant species of any biome in the country.