Much of Africa has a tropical climate, with average annual temperatures of approximately 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Shrubs native to the African landscape will flourish in many areas of the United States, most notably the warmer regions, such as southern California, Florida and areas of the Southwest. Adding African shrubs to your landscape can add color and visual interest to your backyard. Check with your local nursery to see what plants will grow well in your climate zone.
Carissa bispinosa, commonly called "num-num," is native to Africa's Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Kwazulu-Natal, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Kenya and Botswana. This evergreen shrub boasts glossy green foliage and fragrant star-shaped white flowers. Num-num's fruit are small red berries; the fruit, including the seed, is edible and is often used in Africa to make jams and jellies. The shrub can be used as an ornamental shrub in the landscape or as hedge plants.
Plant carissa bispinosa in well-drained, light soil. Add compost and organic materials to the soil prior to planting to provide adequate nutrients for the plant to grow. These shrubs will grow in areas that receive moderate amounts of frost; however, the shrub will grow quicker in regions with warm winters.
Dombeya elegans, also known as "Pink Shrub Dombeya," belongs to the sterculiaceae family and is native to South Africa. This large evergreen shrub can grow to heights of 6 to 12 feet and is hardy in climates with temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Dombeya elegans blossoms are reminiscent of hydrangea flowers; dombeya blooms with small clusters of pink flowers during spring and fall. Plant pink shrub dombeya in full sun to partial shade. Water occasionally; the shrub is generally drought-tolerant, with moderate water needs.
Buddleja saligna is also commonly called "squarestem butterfly bush" or "false olive." This evergreen shrub is native to South Africa, from the Western Cape region through Zimbabwe, Kalahari and the northwest. The shrub grows wild in several areas of California. The leaves are similar to those of a willow: long and narrow, with a deep green hue. Buddleja saligna blooms in spring and summer, with honey-scented, delicate, creamy white flowers which attract insects and insect-eating birds such as robins. False olive can be used as a hedge plant. Plant buddleja saligna in full sunlight in sandy, well-draining soil. Add compost or organic materials to the soil to boost its nutrient content.
Myrsine africana is also frequently referred to as "African boxwood" and "Cape myrtle." It is a small, slow-growing evergreen shrub that grows wild from the Cape through Africa and parts of Asia. African boxwood has glossy, deep green leaves; new growth is a dark red hue. African boxwood blooms in the spring with cream-colored flowers. Myrsine africana can be used as low-growing hedges or as single shrubs in the landscape, and attracts birds. Plant African boxwood in well-drained soil in a location that receives full sun or partial shade.