Climate Change





Plants for sale


We do not run a nursery in the normal sense of the word but we generally have a limited number of plants for sale.   Please telephone (01803 201813) or send an e-mail (see 'Contact' tab at top of page) to enquire as to what may be available because even those on the list below may quickly become unavailable. All plants must be collected - we do not send plants by mail or any other way. Prices always vary but are generally much lower than those in nurseries and garden centres, and the quality is good.  We do not have a price list because prices vary (even for the same plant) according to availability.

We often have the plants listed below (quantities are very limited in some cases). All plants have been propagated (grown either from seed, cuttings, offsets or clump division) here at Southern Comfort.

Note: We cannot guarantee the identity of individual plants - hybridisation commonly occurs and also mistakes can be made.

Requirements & tips for cacti and succulents:

  • well drained soil
  • no water between October and March
  • sunny position
  • occasional feeding May to August
  • where hardiness marginal the larger the plant the more chance it has of succeeding outside
  • do not forget that winter damp and rot cause more casualties than low temperatures



Aechmea recurvata var. benrathii

A smallish and compact bromeliad flowering (deep pink) periodically throughout the year. Fully hardy here in Torbay, grow at ground level to display flowers otherwise can be grown as an epiphyte on Trachycarpus or Phoenix palms.


Moderately fast-growing succulents which have two main merits: they are very easy to propagate from cuttings and do not possess any sharp teeth or spines. We have various species and varieties - not all named - hardy and not so hardy.  Ask us if you are unsure.  Aeoniums are particularly sensitive to winter wet but cuttings can be over-wintered indoors and planted out the following season. They root rapidly.

Aeonium  (probably canariense)                                                                               Canary Islands Aeonium

This is one of the giants of the Aeonium clan.  An impressive plant. Can be tricky to over-winter outside but keep cuttings indoors in case of any losses.  Often the stem becomes damaged whilst the rosette remains intact.  Cut  healthy stem close to the base of the rosette and re-root.

Aeonium "Cyclops"

This aeonium is a bit reminiscent of "Schwartzkopf" but much, much more bulky and slightly less black. It is also less hardy although we have over-wintered them outdoors in the ground.

Aeonium "Firecracker"

A low-growing bushy and spreading aeonium.  We have found it remarkably hardy at Southern Comfort and suspect that it is a 'grow-anywhere'  plant for South Devon.  It flowers reliably and is easy to propagate from cuttings.

Aeonium  "Schwatrzkopf"

Perhaps the best-known of the aeoniums.  Unless your garden is particularly favoured this plant will require winter protection or the safe overwintering of a few cuttings as an insurance policy.  Requires plenty of light and warmth in order to give of its best.  After a few years the plant will reach some 5' (150 cm) in height and will become leggy.  At this point it must be rejuvenated by means of fresh cuttings.


Blue or, less commonly, white flowers.  This is a bog-standard agapanthus which has the virtue of being robust, clumps up rapidly and seeds freely.  Ideal for a rapid increase over a large area.  We allow it to wander around and simply remove it where unwanted.

Agave salmiana ssp. crassispina

A dark-green leaved agave - a bit like an Agave ferox.  It is fast-growing for an agave and soon produces many offsets which then become a large clump.  Give it plenty of space - it will eventually cover an area of 2m x 2m or more.  In our rear garden we have it growing on a high ledge which enables it to be admired from below.  Easy and leaves are little affected even by the worst of our winter weather.

Agave americana

This is one of the largest agaves and most commonly grown. A. americana 'Albapicta'' is a very attractive diminutive variety.

Agave (americana?) - variegated form

There is some dispute regarding the identity of this agave.  Its almost reptilian leaves are more lax than that of a typical A. Americana .  It offsets well - perhaps too well for some.  In Spring remove the tired-looking leaves; this is best done using a large, sharp kitchen knife specially set aside for the purpose.

Agave applanata ''Cream Spike'                                                                           Maguey de Ixtle

A small variegated offsetting Agave. Hardy enough for planting outside. Ensure well-drained soil and avoid winter damp.  The non-variegated (basic) variety is a very large plant and is often confused with A. parryi.

Agave celsii  (A. mitis)                                                                                          Apple Green Agave

An exceptionally green medium-large Agave although shades vary. In the wild grows in shade and, in my experience, is shade tolerant even in the UK.  It produces short branching trunks eventually becoming a clump.  Rosettes die after flowering although, unlike other agaves  the whole plant continues to grow and branch. Eventually, after many years, it may topple over.  At this stage the individual branches can be treated as cuttings and re-rooted.  It takes more summer water than most other agaves and feeding/composting improves its appearance. Seeds germinate well.

Agave ferox (Agave salmiana var. 'ferox'?)

Has the most individuality with its thick sinister dark green leaves, vicious-looking teeth and long terminal spines. This is one of the  most  individualistic of the agaves. It is difficult not to keep your eyes off it. Offsets sporadically.  Grow in pot or in the ground.  Warm place, well-drained soil, plenty of sun, dry in winter.  Although of slow growth it eventually becomes very large.  A plant to be admired - our favourite.  It has been growing here at Southern Comfort for many years but is less hardy than the type;  down to no less than -4°C.

 Agave havardiana                                                                                              Havard Agave

Reputedly the hardiest of all agaves - down to -18°C. It also grows to be very large unless it  is planted in sodden soil and rots first.  It was a delicacy with the Apache Indians who were careful to remove the spines and cook it before eating it - not an unreasonable idea. Before you get any ideas remember that it will be many years before it becomes edible and anyway we do not have any recipes to pass on.

Agave parrasana                                                                                                 Cabbage Head Agave

Despite the common name not inspiring confidence this plant is said to be one of the most attractive agaves. 

Aloe arborescens                                                                                                 Candelabra Aloe, Torch Aloe

From South Africa.  In time forms a small to medium-sized shrub.  Requires very well-drained soil, full sun and dry soil during winter.  May take a minimum of -1°C.  Easy to propagate from cuttings.  Will grow well in very large pot if kept fed.

 Aloe arborescens                                                                                                Variegated Candelabra Aloe

An unusual form of this South African plant.  In time forms a small to medium-sized shrub but is a slower grower than the non-variegated type..  Requires very well-drained soil, full sun and dry soil during winter.  May take a minimum of -1°C.  Easy to propagate from cuttings.  Will grow well in very large pot if kept fed.

Aloe aristata                                                                                                        Lace Aloe

Botanists have now decided that this aloe is no longer an aloe.  It is now an Aristaloe. This make little difference to gardeners apart from confusing them  It will take a few degrees of frost if grown in full sun and in well-drained soil. Nevertheless, there are often inexplicable losses so it is important to keep a few rosettes safe and dry over the winter.  This plant habitually looks desiccated - especially when growing outside.  However, take care not to over-water either outside or potted plants.

Aloe brevifolia                                                                                                    Short-Leaved Aloe

This dwarf aloe is native to the Mediterranean (winter rainfall) climate of  the Western Cape.  It has a distinctly bluish hue when grown well.  It offsets well and soon forms a clump of rosettes of varying sizes. Plant in full sun and in well-drained gritty soil.  Despite being hardy here in Devon it is prone to winter rot if soil is too heavy.  Very suitable for pots inside or out.     

Aloe ciliaris                                                                                                          Fringed Climbing Aloe

Ideal for a south-facing wall where it will grow rapidly.  It is more of a scrambler than a climber and therefore requires sturdy support.  Will reach a few metres in height.  Flowers from winter to late spring.  Easily propagated from stem cuttings.  During winter it is wise to keep a few stems indoors in case of temperatures much below zero.

Aloe mitriformiis                                                                                                 Bishop's Cap Aloe, Mitre Aloe

A creeping aloe.  Marginally hardy in South Devon but with well-drained soil, full sun and dryness over winter we have had success with it.  We have it planted directly in a sheltered south-facing vertical wall.

Aloe mutabilis                                                                  

I consider this to be one of the best aloes for this part of the world.  It is superficially similar to A. arborescens but is slightly more hardy, has longer somewhat bulkier and bluer leaves and is lower-growing. The soft teeth on the leaf edges are of a lighter green.  Here at Southern Comfort at least, it is more floriferous.  Grow in a pot or in the ground against a south-facing wall; it may require minimal protection during cold winter spells.  Keep dry in winter.

Aloe plicatilis                                                                                                             Fan Aloe

The most individualistic of all the aloes - its leaf arrangement  of this 'tree aloe' is close to unique.  It is native to the winter rainfall area of South African and therefore  should not be left to dry out completely during winter.  If the leaves become limp or begin to wilt at any time this indicates that watering is required.  Even in Torbay, some protection is required during winter although placed in a pot against a south-facing wall may be sufficient. Recently, this plant has been placed in its own genus, Kumara, together with one related ex-aloe - Aloe haemanthifolia.
It is therefore now Kumara plicatilis.

Aloe rahuii                                                                                                           Snowflake Aloe

A small aloe from Madagascar.  Not hardy but appears to survive winters unscathed in a pot against our south-facing house wall here at Southern Comfort. We have found it to be a fairly rapid spreader which will soon form a clump in the pot.  Avoid watering during winter.

Aloe striatula                                                                                                       Striped-stemmed Aloe

The hardiest of the aloes. Will tolerate less than ideal conditions and a few degree of frost. Even when cut down by cold in the winter it often recovers from the root.  Often grows into a shrub 150cm high and of similar diameter; when planting outside ensure that this shrub has adequate space. Attractive yellow-orange flowers appear in quantity in late spring. Easy to propagate from cuttings or seed.   Not suitable for growing in pots because of its spread. A key exotic for the garden.

Aloe succotrina                                                                                                    Fynbos Aloe

From Cape Province this is one of the hardier of the aloes but, if gown outside, keep as dry as possible during winter.  Flowers well when large and produces large quantities of  viable seed.  Grow in a pot and bring in over the winter months if unsure.

Aloe vera                                                                                                              Barbados Aloe

Probably the best-known of the aloes. It is not hardy and easily rots if over-watered. However, this is the one to use for speeding up the healing of skin lesions. Grows best in full sun.

Amaryllis belladonna

Not to be confused with Hippeastrum although the names are (mis)used interchangeably. A late summer-flowering bulb with flower stems appearing on totally leafless plants. Plant with top of bulb at ground level in a sunny spot and well-drained soil. Leaves appear after flowering and die back the following season.  Best planted in clumps which will slowly spread.  Bulbs often push their way right up above ground; this is quite normal and should not cause concern. After several years the bulbs can be dug up and separated into new clumps.

Arundinaria nitida  (Fargesia nitida)                                                                     Chinese Fountain Bamboo

This is smallish (3 -4 metre, 10-12 ft) well-behaved bamboo.  It is very hardy, it is non-invasive (clumps increase only  very slowly) and, importantly, it is gracefully attractive.  It will happily grow in shade but hot sun in summer may tire it out a bit.  As with most bamboos, damp soil is best. Can be divided and replanted in spring.

Asplenium scolopendrium                                                                                 Hart's Tongue Fern

This UK native has undivided fronds which harmonise very well with most exotics and, in my view, it hops quite comfortably into the exotic category.   Grows well in both damp and dry conditions provide there is some shade.  Does well in alkaline soils and will also grow in deep shade. Spreads well in many conditions.  Remove old fronds before new ones appear in the Spring.

Asplenium trichomanes                                                                                     Maidenhair Spleenwort

This tiny fern is best grown on the faces of walls where it obviously relishes the presence of lime.  It will take long periods of dryness and, if happy, will spread along a a wall rooting itself into the tiniest of crevices.  Plant in a small crack and water until established.  This plant can be seen growing on many walls in this part of Devon.

Bergenia ciliata

Impressively large-leaved deciduous bergenia with pink flowers in Spring. The leaves are soft and covered with silky hairs. One of the best foliage plants. Although often grown in dry soil all bergenias require regular feeding and dampish soil to give of their best. No exotic garden should be without it.

Bergenia  'Wintermärchen'

The relatively small leaves are held more vertically than other bergenias. Towards winter they colour to crimson-purple. During spring and summer the plant serves as attractive, even lush, green ground cover if grown in rich soil and provided with appropriate moisture.

Billbergia nutans                                                                                                 Queen's Tears

This bromeliad is particularly happy when grown as an epiphyte in sphagnum moss in leaf-base pockets of Trachycarpus or Phoenix palms. Otherwise grow in a pot where its wonderful arching flower stems are suitably displayed.

Billbergia nutans  - variegated form                                                                   Queen's Tears

This bromeliad is particularly happy when grown as an epiphyte in sphagnum moss in leaf-base pockets of Trachycarpus or Phoenix palms. Otherwise grow in a pot where its wonderful arching flower stems are suitably displayed.  If well-grown the leaves can be very attractive but the flowers of the non-variegated type are superior. Not commonly available this is more of a collector's piece.

Brugmansia                                                                                                          Datura, Angels' Trumpets

Species/variety unknown.  Produces a mass of large nodding pale yellow flowers during summer and later.  Pleasantly scented during evenings.  May grow into a medium shrub although often cut back to the ground during harsh winters.  All parts of the plant are toxic and care should be taken whilst pruning.  In some cases mere skin contact may cause problems.

Bulbine fructescens                                                                                             Burn Jelly Plant

Related to the aloes this spreading succulent is easy to grow, speads rapidly, is easy to control, is easy to propagate from cuttings and will take a few degrees of frost.  It is very much an asset in the exotic garden.  We have had it growing for many years in the upper garden in sun and light shade.  The juice of the leaves is said to have a soothing effect on burns and minor cuts and is therefore useful as a first aid treatment.

Carpobrotus                                                                                                          Hottentot Fig, Sour Fig

We have two species C. acinaciformis and C. edulis distinguished by the colour of the large daisy-like flowers - reddish purple and yellow respectively.  From southern Africa. A creeping plant which spreads well and ideal for ground cover on dry, hot, south-facing slopes. Impressive when in flower otherwise a  pleasant green. In the UK it will not flower in shade.  Requires some maintenance since stems often die back - especially in winter.  All stems root easily if covered with soil.

Cerinthe major - seeds

This is an annual but invariably produces enough seeds to establish itself over the years. A very attractive Mediterranean plant with glaucous leaves and striking blue nodding flowers. Easy to control and never becomes a nuisance.  Soaking seeds before sowing may speed up germination.

Colocasia gaoligongensis                                                                                      Taro, Eddoe

Eaten in East Asia, grown for its splendid foliage in Europe.  The plant we have is probably the hardiest of all the colocasias.  Will take several degrees of frost.  Beautiful huge leaves with dark shaded areas between the veins.  You need to grow it in water and keep it in water over the winter.  Otherwise it may rot.  Our variety spreads by means of runners and has only moderately attractive yellowy-orange flowers in succession.  We grow it in a waterlogged pot and also in our stream.  Try it as a pond marginal.

Colocasia esculenta                                                                                                   Taro, Eddoe  

The original corms came from Sainsbury's Supermarket. I assume that the species is esculenta. This plant surprised me with its resistance to our winter conditions with no damage over two winters provided that the plant was kept waterlogged or, at least, very damp. This apparent hardiness together with its impressive leaves and edible corms make it a desirable garden plant. Probably best referred to as 'Sainsbury's Delight'.

Cordyline australis                                                                                    New Zealand Cabbage Tree, Torbay Palm

This distinctive-looking relative of the yucca is one of the most characteristic small trees here in Torbay. So called because the young shoots used to be cooked and eaten (maybe still are) by the Maori. Mistakenly it is also referred to as the 'Torbay Palm'. It is, of course, neither a Torbay native nor is it a palm.  The flowers are very strongly scented. Remove  dead leaves and dead heads in order to retain an elegant appearance.

Corydalis ophiocarpa

This unusual species of Corydalis grows to a height of some 30 cm and does well in shade or semi-shade.  Not many people will have this one.  Whitish-green flowers with purple tips.  Harmonises well with ferns, not evergreen.  Rich moist soil is required.  Hardy.

Crassula arborescens                                                                                         Silver Money Plant

Not hardy even in Devon.  However, we over-winter potted crassulas by placing them up against the south wall of our house, in full light ensuring that they are kept dry.

Crassula arborescens undulatifolia                                                                   Wavy-leaved Silver Money Plant

Not hardy even in Devon.  However, we over-winter potted crassulas by placing them up against the south wall of our house, in full light ensuring that they are kept dry.

Crassula ovata                                                                                                    Money Plant

Not hardy even in Devon.  However, we over-winter potted crassulas by placing them up against the south wall of our house, in full light ensuring that they are kept dry.

Crassula 'Morgan's Beauty'

Like most crassulas this low-growing compact plant  is best kept above 0°C.  Even in Torbay best grown in a pot - outside except during winter when it must be kept dry.

Crassula perfoliata                                                                                              Propeller Plant

The leaf arrangement of this crassula resembles a propeller and, not surprisingly, this plant is always a talking point.  Casual observers always expect it to take off suddenly and are invariably disappointed.  Nevertheless, the plant here has attractive  foliage and brilliant red flowers.  Like all crassulas it is easy to strike from cuttings but it is not a particularly rapid grower.  Although it often overwinters outside it  survives with much damaged leaves. It is best, thefefore, to treat it as an indoor or conservatory plant .

Crassula sarcocaulis           
                                                                              Bonsai Crassula

An exceptionally hardy crassula which, perhaps unfortunately, does not look much like a crassula.  It has a growth habit similar to thyme and can be confidently planted out in well-drained soil.  Its least endearing feature is the scent of its flowers.

Crinum x powellii                                                                                                Swamp Lily, Cape Lily

Pink-flowered variety. Large lily-like lightly fragrant flowers on 5ft stems in early summer. Happiest in dampish, well-drained, rich soil. The bulbs are very large and offsets are difficult to remove from established clumps without major damage. In order to produce an impressive clump we advise planting three bulbs in a triangle 12-18 inches apart with the necks at ground level. In time three small clumps will merge into one large one. This clump will soon fill space some 2-3ft in diameter. Allow for this. In order to prevent untidiness, after flowering cut back all foliage back to the neck of the bulb. It soon grows back. Keep a lookout for snails and slugs.

Growing in a pot: Crinum x powellii  can be grown in a large pot  - minimum 12" (30 cm) diameter.  Plant one large bulb in the centre with the neck at ground level as above.  Keep well-watered but not soaked for prolonged periods of time.  Feed regularly with general purpose plant food.  A well-fed plant will produce many offsets and within a few years will fill the pot.  At this stage divide the clump and re-pot  or plant outside.

Buying clumps of small bulbs: These are small bulbs and it is unlikely that they will flower in the first season.  Do not allow plants to continue growing in these small pots. Divide clumps soon after purchase and re-pot or plant outside as indicated above.

Dianella tasmanica                                                                                             Tasman Flax Lily

An extraordinary plant from Australia and Tasmania.  Very beautiful, small, but numerous royal blue  flowers contrasting with yellow anthers are borne in mid-Spring.  They give way to shimmering long-lasting dark royal blue berries.  Slowly speads to form large clumps.  Remove spent flowering stems and leaves to enhance appearance. Grow in good neutral to acid soil and do not allow full sun  for more than short periods.  Woodland conditions and light shade are ideal.                            

Dicksonia Antarctica                                                                                           Soft Tree Fern, Man Fern

The hardiest of the tree ferns. Happiest in shady damp conditions where fronds will be 8-9ft long. During drier weather and when the fronds are appearing the trunk must be regularly hosed from top to bottom.  We generally remove the old fronds in order to neaten up the appearance  of the fern but left on they do provide a degree of winter protection to the  trunk where temperatures fall much below 0°C.  It will self-sow in this part of Devon.

Dyckia frigida

This terrestrial bromeliad from South America grows naturally in poor dry soil eventually making large clumps.  Here in Torquay we have found it is quite adaptable and hardy; it is even quite resistant to abuse.  If soil is too rich it may refuse to flower.

Eccremocarpus scaber                                                                                        Chilean Glory Flower

Orange-flowering climber which resembles a miniature Campsis to which it is related. Propagated easily from seed. Its additional virtue is that it begins to flower very early; even seedlings will flower during their first season.


Similar to aeonium but spreading at ground level. The ones we have are all more or less hardy here in the Meadfoot area of Torquay but are generally very sensitive to winter damp.  Whatever your location keep cuttings in dry place  over winter in order to ensure that any losses can be made good.

Echeveria nodulosa 'Painted Lady'

One of the most striking of the hardy echeverias although not the easiest to grow successfully.  It begins growth somewhat like an aeonium and soon becomes unable to support itself.  Ensure that it has very well-drained soil and plenty of sun.  Grows well in a pot.

Echeveria 'Peacock'

A large and robust echeveria - rosettes up to 6" (15 cm) in diameter.  This one is resistant to light frost. Easy to propagate from cuttings. Well-drained soil, sun.  Whatever your location keep cuttings in dry place  over winter in order to ensure that any losses can be made good.

Echeveria setosa                                                                                                 Mexican Firecracker

The attractive rosette of this echeveria are covered in long white  hairs and the flowers are a bright red and yellow. Well-drained soil, sun.  Whatever your location keep cuttings in dry place over winter in order to ensure that any losses can be made good.

Echinopsis oxygona

Offsetting globular to cylindrical cactus. Easy to grow outside in most gritty soils. Fairly floriferous with attractive white to pinkish blooms lasting for up to two days.

Echium pininana

A singular plant in many ways: a triennial, a valuable foliage plant in its second year, tall stem - up to 7 metres in height, the base of the stem becomes woody in its third year.  It is covered in very fine hairs which puncture the skin and cause much irritation.  Nevertheless, a most desirable plant.  It is not always easy to get the best out of it - too little nutrients will stunt growth, too much will make it top-heavy and it may topple over.  Similarly with watering. 


Epiphytic scrambling/climbing cactus.  Eventually becomes a large lax shrub.  Stunning red flowers and, if you are lucky, edible fruit. Neutral to acid soil. Grown outside it requires a very sheltered position on south-facing wall. Even here at Southern Comfort it is temperamental outside. Requires support and best grown in a conservatory or greenhouse.

Erigeron karvinskianus (E. mucronatus)                                                          Fleabane, Mexican Daisy

It could be a weed (and often becomes one) but is delightful as a coloniser of dry stone walls and other inhospitable areas. Self-seeds moderately andf good for ground cover in tricky areas.  Can be used in hanging baskets as it has a tendency to cascade.

Euphorbia myrsinites                                                                                         Myrtle Spurge

A worthwhile plant with regularly arranged glaucous, blue green leaves.  Like all spurges, the sap can be harmful and must not be allowed to come into contact with the eyes.  Not the best plant to have when curious children or pets are around. Otherwise a valuable member of the exotic collection (it is, in fact, a European native and is quite hardy).  Stems are best removed after flowering to maintain neatness. Self-seeds by catapulting its seeds over several metres.

Fascicularia bicolor

Medium-sized bromeliad which can be grown on a vertical wall, a tree trunk, in the soil or in a pot (with or without soil). In fact, it is difficult to find a place where it cannot be grown. On walls and trees it must be given a good start until its adhesive roots firmly  attach the plant . Sun or light shade. Flowers very impressive with leaves around the inflorescence becoming bright red. The flowers themselves last no more than a day or two. Eventually forms a large clump.

Furcraea longaeva

For those who like agaves but who dislike their vicious spines and teeth and are unwilling to wait 25 or 30 years for a flower. This impressive plant looks very much like an Agave but has no spines or teeth. It will flower after about six to eight years depending on conditions. It is also less affected by winter conditions and damp in general. In essence, it is the ideal exotic.  Allow for a diameter of 2 metres.

Gasteria batesiana

Thick warty leaves give this Gasteria a lot of character.  We have not tried it outside but suspect that it is not hardy but excellent in a pot when brought in over the winter and kept dry.  Best leaf colour is obtained when not in full sun.  Offsets well.

Graptopetalum paraguayense                                                                           Ghost Plant

From Mexico this succulent is easy to grow  and takes a few degrees of frost.  Although fragile - leaves drop off easily - it recovers rapidly and can be propagated from both stems and leaves.

Hakenochloa macra 'Aureola'

A beautiful grass which gives the best effect in a pot where the leaves spill out in all directions like a fountain. If in a pot wilts easily if too dry but soil must not be kept constantly damp.

Hatiora                                                                                                               Easter Cactus

We have found this plant to be hardy here at Southern Comfort.  We grow it in the pocket above the leaf base of a Trachycarpus palm.  To start it off we pack the area with sphagnum moss. Wait until the cactus is fairly bulky before planting out and keep some segments indoors over winter as an insurance policy.

Haworthia                                                                                                          Wart Plant                                

Related to the aloes this plant will grow in light shade and is moderately hardy here in Torbay.  We have H. attenuata which has spots merging into transverse striations on the undersides of the leaves and  H. glabrata - unmarked deep green leaves.  The latter is considered by some to be a variety of H. attentuata. Both species offset readily and are happy both in pots and in the ground.

Hieracium maculatum                                                                                      Spotted Hawkweed

A weed indeed!  This is an excellent ground-cover plant - do not be fooled by the fact that it is of the dandelion family.  It will grow in most soils, in sun or shade, even between paving stones.  We give it free reign here at Southern Comfort.  It rewards us with its most attractive foliage and its ability to take over from noxious weeds.  Spread can be limited by snipping of the flower buds before they set seed.  A delightful plant.

Impatiens omeiana                                                                                            Mount Omei Busy Lizzie

Beautiful naturally variegated foliage which will enhance any exotic planting.  It grows best in shade and spreads slowing from the roots.  It is essential that the soil be kept moist at all times.  It is therefore suitable as a pond marginal.  It looks very effective in a largish pot which must be kept in a saucer of water at all times.

Iris japonica                                                                                                         Crested Iris

Another plant to confuse your friends and neighbours.  "It's a palm!". No. "It's a bamboo!". Nope.  It is, in fact, a very beautiful iris which could be either.  A very desirable addition to an exotic garden.  Spreads well. Cut spent  flower stalks to the ground after flowering. Requires good soil and a warm position.

Lachenalia aloides                                                                                               Cape Cowslip

Bulbous perennial from southern Africa.  Yellow/red/orange flowers.  Not related to any cowslip that I know of - it is morte related to the bluebell.  Grow on a well-drained south-facing slope in full sun.  To much damp during summer may cause plants to rot.


Brilliantly coloured daisy-like flowers, resistant to light frost, grows in poor soil.  Requires sun in order for flowers to open. Our Lampranthus are mainly reds and purples.  They put on a spectacular display in late spring when virtually the whole plant is covered in bloom.  They root easily from woody cuttings  and their main enemy is heavy soil and damp.  Over-winter cuttings indoors as insurance against winter failure.

Laurus nobilis                                                                                                     Bay Tree, Bay Laural

No cook should be without one  - the leaves add flavour to many dishes.  The fresher, the better.  Evergreen, eventually grows into a medium-sized tree although often grown a pot and trimmed to size.

Ledebouria socialis (Scilla socialis, Scilla violacea)                                                Wood Hyacinth, Silver Squill

Small bulbous spreading groundcover related to our bluebell.  Attractive patterned/mottled leaves. Watering during summer improves growth but too wet a winter may inhibit growth and flowering during the following summer. Here in the UK can be grown in a sunny position as well as in light shade.

Mammillaria plumosa

Curious small offsetting globular cactus. Instead of spines it is covered with a white down with the body of the plant barely visible. It is difficult to resist stroking it. Flowers pretty but not remarkable and to a large extent hidden in the woolly coat. We have not tried it outside.

Maurandya barclayana                                                                                       Climbing Snapdragon

Fast-growing climber, hardy in sheltered spots, easily propagated from seed.  Purple-red trumpet flowers.

Miscanthus floridulus

This grass grows to 12ft high and spreads slowly.  Resembles a bamboo and has leaves up to one inch wide.  Easy to keep under control.

Miscanthus sinensis ''Strictus'                                                                           Tiger Grass, Zebra grass

Yellow/white horizontal bands on the leaves of mature plants. This is a more erect form than 'Zebrinus'.

Musa basjoo                                                                                                         Japanese Fibre Banana, Hardy Banana

Clump forming banana. Requires moist but not waterlogged rich soil in sun or light shade. After flowering the stem dies but the base of the plant continues to produce fresh stems.  The small bananas produced after flowering are unfortunately not edible but can be thrown effectively at unwanted cats.

Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens'

Small Narrow strap-shaped jet black leaves. Often mistakenly thought to be a grass. Happiest in good soil. Impressive when covers large areas and when its leaves contrast with other lighter coloured foliage.

Opuntia verschaffeltii                                                                                         Eve's Needle

A small clump-forming cylindrical cactus.  It is not helped by altering its name to Austrocylindropuntia verschaffeltii.  Otherwise it is a good cactus to grow outside in a large shallow pot. Its red flowers are very attractive and the segments (pads) roots easily to produce new plants. It is probably the least vicious of all the opuntias but it still has some spines and small glochids.

Ornithogallum longibracteatum                                                                        Pregnant Onion

This is neither an onion nor is it pregnant, has been pregnant or ever will be pregnant - at least not in the normal sense of the word. Ornithogallum longibractatum is grown for the appearance of its large green bulb which sits at ground level and is often covered in small bulblets. It has a tall flower stalk which usually is unable to support its own weight. It can be grown outside but is at the limits of its hardiness here in Torbay. Its main virtue, if it can be called a virtue, is that few people grow it. We do.


Daisy-like flowers - our plants are in various colours: white, purple, yellow and bronze. Stems soon become woody and the plants are sub-shrubs - like thyme.  They spread well, seem to be impervious to pests, are of low maintenance, require little water, flower over a long period (main flush in spring) and, above all, are highly decorative.  Like Lampranthus but hardier.  Woody stems root easily when placed in the ground.                                                                             

Pachyphytum oviferum                                                                                    Sugar Almond Plant

This tender-looking succulent will be killed only by temperatures below 8°C but requires a well-drained dry soil and a sunny position. Easily propagated from leaves. 

Passiflora amethystina ('Amethyst')                                                                  Passion Flower

Seedling. A very popular though less-grown Passion Flower than P. caerulea it is in some ways superior: less invasive and the colour is more striking.  It is variable in colour and seedlings flowers often differ somewhat from those of the parent plant.

Plectranthus neocholus  (Coleus neochilus)

Usually considered tender this plant with extremely aromatic leaves is related to sage. It is often used as ground-cover in places where the soil is good, damp and at least in some shade. It is very easy to propagate from cuttings. Here, it stands a good chance of surviving the winter even if it is cut down to the ground by frost. It recovers very rapidly.

Pleioblastus viridistriatus  (P. auricomus)

An extremely attractive  low-growing bamboo.  Grows best in shade or semi-shade  and  in soil which is not too dry.  It is suitable for ground cover.  However, it is an invasive rapidly-spreading bamboo which may be an advantage or a defect depending on circumstances. Nevertheless the Royal Horticultural Society has given it the Award of Garden Merit. (AGM).  It is best cut down in early spring to allow room for the colourful fresh foliage.

Polypodium vulgare 'Cornubiense'                                                                    Polypody

This is a variety of the Common Polypody which is possibly the only UK epiphyte.  It is often seen growing on low mossy oak branches in moist places. This variety has segmented fronds but often reverts to the typical. The reversion is never total, however, and the type fronds may or may not be removed according to taste.

Primula vulgaris                                                                                                  Primrose

Well-known primrose native to the British Isles.  Grows best on neutral to acid soil, soil must not dry out fully, light to medium shade.  We have found it to spread well when conditions are right. Seedlings may take over two years to reach flowering size. Once established it requires no special care.

Sedum 'Crocodile'

This hybrid is only half Sedum - the other half  is Cremnophila.  The correct name is therefore  X Cremnosedum 'Crocodile'.  Attractive plump-looking leaves which can turn reddish in full sun. Easy to propagate from cuttings or leaves.  Grow in a dry sunny spot.  Can also be grown in a pot indoors but should not be over-watered and must be kept dry during winter.  

Sedum prealtum                                                                                                  Shrubby Stonecrop

A useful robust, rock hardy (here in Devon)  stonecrop for an exotic garden.  It will cover large areas with bright green succulent foliage and flowers yellow in Springtime.  After flowering cut back dead heads in order to tidy up the plant and to encourage further growth. Somewhat reminiscent of a Crassula.

Selenicereus spinulosus                                                                                     Queen of the Night

Epiphytic scrambling cactus which in the wild uses side roots to attach itself. Grows large, is moderately spiny and requires support. Beautiful white flowers opening in the evening and closing before morning. Easily propagated from cuttings. Best in a greenhouse and  not recommended outside.

Senecio articulatus                                                                                             Candle Plant

A very curious plant with spineless cactus-like glaucous swollen stems. Yellow daisy-like flowers. Grows up to 60cm (2 ft) but often less.  Buy it to puzzle your friends, but don't try lighting it.  Not hardy but easy to propagate and spreads well.

Solanum laciniatum                                                                                             Kangaroo Apple

A somewhat lax  medium shrub generally up to 2 metres tall (although may be much taller)  with lacy leaves (hence the Latin name)  and dark royal blue flowers late in the year. These are followed by orange-red fruits which generally contain viable seeds.  Requires judicious pruning in order  not to appear dishevelled.

Tillandsia aeranthos                                                                                         Air-Flowering Air Plant

Impressive crimson and royal blue flowers are produced in late spring.  A very striking choice hardy Tillandsia  Attach to the trunk of a Cordyline australis or similar and mist occasionally.  Remove dead heads for a neat-look plant unless seeds are required. For more details on how to grow air plants outside please see our website

Tillandsia bergeri                                                                                                Berger's Air Plant

This is probably the easiest air plant to grow in the South-West. Pale blue flowers are reliably produced in late spring.  Attach to the trunk of a Cordyline australis or similar and mist occasionally.  Remove dead heads for a neat-look plant unless seeds are required. For more details on how to grow air plants outside please see our website

Tillandsia usenoides                                                                                            Spanish Moss

Although a Tillandsia it is not a typical air plant.  It grows in festoons hanging from branches of trees in the south-east of the United States.  To grow it here in Devon ensure it has plenty of light, a sheltered spot, is protected from severe frost  and is misted regularly in summer.  It can be divided as required. As an alternative to misting the whole festoon can be dunked in rainwater and re-hung to drip.

Trachycarpus fortunei                                                                                         Chusan Palm, Windmill Palm

Probably the easiest palm to grow in a garden.  It is noted for its hardiness - it is happy in most aspects and soils and  survives temperatures down to -15°C.  The leaves can be somewhat susceptible to wind damage.  Therefore avoid open windy locations.  Both sexes are required to produce seed and pollination is by wind.  The seeds germinate readily but initial growth can be slow.  In the long term, this palm does not do well in a pot.

Uncinia unciniata ''Rubra'                                                                                    Hook Sedge, Hook Grass

Dark reddish leaves and an attractive arching appearance this small grass from New Zealand, as befits its name,  has the unfortunate habit when flowering of hooking onto anything and anyone brushing past.  However, it is a most attractive little grass especially if kept to growing in small tufts or clumps.  It takes several degrees of frost.

Woodwardia radicans                                                                                           Walking Fern

The Walking Fern. Plantlets are formed at the ends of the fronds; they root on touching the ground to form new ferns - hence the common name. Ground level creeping fern with impressive fronds up to 6ft or more. Moist conditions but will tolerate dryish soil if watered occasionally.

Climate Change


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