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Products > Hypoestes aristata
Hypoestes aristata - Ribbon Bush

Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Acanthaceae (Acanthusą)
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Violet Red
Bloomtime: Fall/Winter
Height: 3-5 feet
Width: 3-4 feet
Exposure: Cool Sun/Light Shade
Seaside: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25° F
Hypoestes aristata (Ribbon Bush) – A fast growing evergreen subshrub that grows 3-6 feet tall and wide with erect stems holding soft dark green ovate leaves and showy lavender flowers that cover this plant abundantly in the fall to early winter. The flowers, in opposite whorls on terminal spikes, are tightly clustered within leafy bracts with each flower having two lips with the upper one reflexed back with white markings. Plant in full sun to light shade in a fairly well drained soil and water occasionally in the summer – quite tolerant of infrequent irrigation in part sun in our Santa Barbara garden. Tender to temperatures much below 27°F but reported stem hardy to 10-15° F and can be grown indoors in colder climates. Early frosts will often knock down the plant while flowering, but it rebounds well in the spring. Also responds well to being clipped back after blooming, making for a denser plant. According to Sima Eliovson in her Wild Flowers of Southern Africa this plant is tolerant of coastal conditions. Ribbon bush is one of the showiest plants in the late season in our garden and its flowering stems are useful for flower arrangements. It is also good for attracting hummingbirds, bees and other insects at a time when few other plants are flowering. In its native habitat Ribbon Bush grows in both wet and dry forests in the summer rainfall Eastern Cape north into tropical Africa. The name of the genus comes from the Greek words 'hypo' meaning "under" and 'estia' meaning "a house" in reference to how the bracts cover the calyx. The specific epithet is from the Latin words 'arista' meaning awn and 'ata' meaning "possessing' in reference to the narrow inner bracts or perhaps to long calyx lobes. We first got this great plant from John Bleck, then curator of the UCSB biology greenhouses, in 1983 and listed it in our nursery catalogs from 1990 until 2007. While an exceptionally attractive garden plant in bloom, it is a little weak and brittle in the container when young and this combined with its attributes being little known, it suffered from limited demand by our customers and we discontinued growing it. We however are still much enamored with it and very much enjoy seeing it in our garden, so are now once again offering this attractive plant.  The information on this page is based on research conducted in our nursery library and from online sources as well as from observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery's garden and in other gardens that we have visited. We have also incorporated comments received from others and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have some additional information, particularly if this information is contrary to what we have written or includes additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing  Hypoestes aristata.