Our diverse indigenous plants have inspired many plant breeders both in south Africa and overseas. Every year, new hybrids appear on the market. Are these plants really better than the species types. Are they indigenous? Are species types better to use than hybrids r aren’t they? You’ll find that the choice between species and hybrids depends on your requirements.
Arctotis makes for a fine example. The creeping species types come in a range of colours and have lovely, large flowers in springtime. They’re also as tough as nails and will cover ground quickly in harsh conditions.

The hybrid types on the other hand, are usually clump forming and not quite as drought tolerant. At the same time, they flower more prolifically and will produce flushes of flowers all year round. This makes them ideal for smaller gardens where every plant has to make an impact. Examples would be hybrids such as ‘On Fire’ ‘Radiance Red’ and ‘Sunset Radiance’.

 

The hybrid types on the other hand, are usually clump forming and not quite as drought tolerant. At the same time, they flower more prolifically and will produce flushes of flowers all year round. This makes them ideal for smaller gardens where every plant has to make an impact. Examples would be hybrids such as ‘On Fire’ ‘Radiance Red’ and ‘Sunset Radiance’.

See also: Insect repelling and insect resistant plants.

indigenous-species-hybrids
indigenous-species-hybrids

Osteospemums can also be found as either species or hybrid types. Of these, the species types are the hardiest while the hybrids, though they can last for two to three years in just the right spot and if planted early enough, tend to die off in the heat of summer. If you’re trying the hybrids out, consider them as seasonal colour, whereas the species types are much more durable as well as being likely to self-seed and have a more spreading growth habit.

This said, the hybrids do come in a magnificent range of colours, so they do make really pretty seasonal fillers to bring a lovely touch of colour to your Garden from July to December and if you’re lucky, they could last for more than one year.

 

Suteras (also known as Bacopa) are available in an amazing range of hybrid colours these days. Most of these are quite durable provided that they have well-drained soil to grow in. They’re great for mixed pots or as a low growing ground cover. The species types are also lots of fun and they often seed themselves very satisfactorily in sun as well as in shade.

indigenous-species-hybrids

Agapanthus hybrids are one of the current trends in gardening both here and overseas where they fetch incredibly high prices. The advantages of using hybrid Agapanthus are uniformity in height, flower time and flower colour which allows them to be used in formal garden settings with ease. The species types are highly variable and it can be fun to see the variations in flower shape and colour as long as you’re not expecting absolute uniformity.

Some of the hybrids are really beautiful and include some rich, deep purples, pale lilacs and every shade from blue to white. Bicolor varieties like ‘Selma Bok’ have white blooms with blue throats.

indigenous-species-hybrids

Other hybridised versions of indigenous plants that offer their own set of benefits include the many new Aloe varieties as well as Plectranthus that were mainly bred in South Africa but now enjoy popularity as pot plants in Europe. Among these are the beautiful ‘Cape Angels’ range as well as the ever-popular Mona Lavender. However, species type Plectranthus are more sun tolerant on the whole and can make gorgeous container or garden plants that are adaptable and drought tolerant.

For more than twenty years, the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) have been working on a genus of bulbs known as Lachenalias. They’ve been selected and bred to produce stunning blooms that make them an ideal pot plant, but they also work well in gardens if they are left undisturbed during their dormancy.

See also: Edible Indigenous

The bottom line is this: hybrids are more uniform and have a more contained growth habit. Some hybrids, such as the Agapanthus are low-maintenance, while other hybrids may need more attention or not be as durable. Species types are generally tougher and cover larger areas, but their flowers may not be as striking in size and colour.