I. bolusiana is native to Angola, Botswana, Cape Provinces, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Northern Provinces, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, Zaïre and Zimbabwe. The plant can grow up to 1500 m of altitude in sandy soils and savannahs.
I. bolusiana is a dwarf perennial shrub belonging to the Convolvulaceae botanical family. The stem can be erect or prostrate, dark green in color, woody at the base, and can reach up to 3 m in height. The leaves are narrow, filiform, green in color and covered with silver hairs. The plant is caudex forming. The caudex is woody, thick, tuberous and can reach 20 cm in depth. From the caudex the plant branches. Funnel-shaped flowers are borne near the stem’s base and can be magenta or mauve, usually are darker in the centers and can reach up to 7 cm in height. Fruits are capsule sub-globose containing seeds covered with long hairs.
This is a fast growing plant, easy to cultivate. The best sun-exposure is direct sun-light, and the plant does not like temperatures below 7 °C so it needs to be placed indoors. The soil should be mixed with pumice, clay and loam to allow the drainage and prevent the root rot, the plant is prone to it indeed. Remember to use a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly in Spring and Summer: during the vegetative period you can water the plant (every 5 days), checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow the plant to enter dormancy. If you want a faster and lush growth you can fertilize the plant once a month during the growing season with the specific fertilizers for cacti; stop fertilizing throughout the winter. If the pot starts to be too small for the plant you can repot the plant in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil.
Propagation can be done by seed or by cutting. By seed it is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to soak the seeds for 24 hours and the sow them in a sandy loam soil and keep them with a high level of humidity. By cutting you can use the root cuttings during the spring or semi-ripe cuttings in summer. Cut an offset and then let it dry; after a few days the cut surface will dry and a callus will form, then place the cutting in a mixture of sand, soil and pumice. To increase the success of propagation you can cut two or more offsets at the same time. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C.
Some varieties of ipomea are very common in our gardens: they are generally the climbing species that are used to beautify fences or supports. This plant was given this name for Harry Bolus (1834– 1911), english banker and botanist who emigrated to South Africa in 1850.
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