Although we think of Diascias as being tender floppy bedding plants, Diascia personata is rather special. It produces robust, 90cm stiff stems, densely clothed in lance shaped fresh green foliage. Copious dusky pink flowers with darker markings are produced in terminal racemes from May until the frosts, creating a show-stopping display. The crown is semi-evergreen and perennial and whilst the new shoots are frost sensitive, the crown can withstand -8 degrees C. Its hardiness is thanks to its origin in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. It requires well drained and not impoverished soil in a sunny or semi-shaded position with shelter from Winter winds. Plant in the first half of the year to allow the crown to establish against the WInter.90 x 45cm. Insurance cuttings overwintered indoors can be a good idea.
Diascia is from the Greek ‘di’ = two and ‘askos’ = sac ie Twinspur.
The main reason that Diascia make such superb floriferous plants with an incredibly long flowering period (May-Oct) is that in Britain they have no suitable pollinators and hence never set seed. In their native South Africa Diascias have a much shorter season as they are pollinated by bees of the genus Rediviva and switch their energies into producing sedds for future generations.These bees have much longer forelegs than any British species of bee and these enable them to reach into the long spurred flowers to collect a special oil secreted by the flowers’ glands. The hairs on the bee’s legs soak up the oil like a sponge while the anthers dust the body of the bee with pollen as the sticky atigma picks up ‘foreign’ pollen and achieves pollination. Once this happens the flower fades. As this process is not accomplished in Britain each flower lasts longer and the plant goes on and on trying to produce flowers in the hope of potential pollination.