The Q&A Archives: Availability and possible survival of restios common in South Africa

Question: Hi-On a recent trip to S. Africa, we found restios which we really liked. (Ischyrolepis subverticillata-Broom Restio or Restio Quadratus-Vlakteriet). Are these plants available in the US? Would they do well in Paso Robles, CA? I have a property line along my front yard that I want to define. It would have the air it needs, though face east with the house to the west.

Answer: The Restionaceae is a plant family from the southern hemisphere that is closely allied to grasses and sedges. Their adaptability to the California climate, as well as their graceful texture and form, make these plants great additions to gardens and landscapes. Restios are dioecious -- meaning male and female flowers are borne on different plants, and sometimes these plants can be quite different in form. All of these plants are clump forming, putting up new (and often taller) culms every year until they reach mature size.

Ischyrolepis subverticillata is more tolerant of shady situations than most restios. In South Africa it is found along streams from sea level to the lower mountain slopes. It makes vase shaped, medium green clumps to 5' with branched culms. Its rigid stems are more airy than Elegia capensis, though with the same "branched horse-tail" quality. Male and female flowers are borne on the tips of the branchlets. Winter temperatures of 20 degrees killed the foliage to the ground, but the plants have slowly recovered.

The following nurseries carry Restio, or can order for you:

Cambria Nursery and Florist
2801 Eaton Road
Cambria, CA 93428
Tel.: 805-927-4747

Heart's Ease
4101 Burton Dr.
Cambria, CA 93428
Tel.: 805-927-5224

Hometown Nursery
1803 Spring St
Paso Robles, CA 93446
Tel.: 805-238-1976

Los Osos Valley Nursery
301 Los Osos Valley Rd.
Los Osos, CA 93402
Tel.: 805-528-5300

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