Welwitschia is a low-growing, groundcover plant that grows to about 2ft in height and can live for several hundred years. It is native to the Namib Desert, a coastal desert which stretches from southern Angola to northern South Africa. This plant requires very little water and thrives in dry, arid conditions and full sun. Welwitschia is suitable for planting in USDA Zone 9-11.
Its unusual foliage is what makes this plant stand out and adds an ornamental quality to landscapes, gardens and container planting. Its two strap-shaped leaves sprout from the base of the trunk, continuously growing over time and giving the appearance of a rag-clad tree. The leaves are covered in tiny scales and may appear grey to purplish-brown in color.
For those growing Welwitschia in cold regions, there are several precautions to take. In winter, it is best to move the plant to a pot and keep it in a warm room or garage, in order to protect it from temperatures below zero. For those growing the plant outdoors, it is important to provide ample protection against frost and to use a quality potting soil for container planting.
The Welwitschia mirabilis is an exceptionally hardy and carnivorously adapted desert plant and it is a long-lived and low-maintenance addition to arid gardens, landscapes and container planting. With its ornamental foliage, it is truly a remarkable plant that will bring an unusual and captivating look to any outdoor area.