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A picture of a Cape May

Cape May

Coleonema album

Also known as

White Confetti Bush, Aasbossie, Klipboegoe (Afr.)

Coleonema album by Nicola van Berkel (

Full Sun
Easy care
Moderate watering


USDA zone


Minimum temperature

Expected size








2 years to reach maturity


  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

This plant has a strong fragrance

More images of Cape May

A photo of Cape May
A photo of Cape May
A photo of Cape May
A photo of Cape May
A photo of Cape May

Cape May Overview

Coleonema album is a very attractive shrub with a compact structure, fine foliage and a profusion of tiny white fragrant flowers in winter and spring. It is extremely versatile and can be grown in containers, as a topiary, or as an accent plant. It does particularly well in coastal gardens as it can tolerate strong salt-laden winds. Once established, they require very little maintenance and will be able to survive long periods of drought. The Cape May thrives in sunny positions and acidic, well-draining soils. Mulch with organic material, like wood chips or vine clippings, to keep the soil moist and the roots protected and cool during summer. Keep plants well-watered during the winter seasons and less so during summer but do not allow plants to dry out. As part of the citrus family (Rutaceae), this buchu is well-known for its highly aromatic leaves and one can't help but rub your hands over the foliage to emit the pleasing fragrance. Fishermen use the aromatic oils of this plant to rid their hands of the redbait smell, hence the Afrikaans vernacular name 'Aasbos' (bait bush). ZA Distribution: Western Cape.

Common problems with Cape May

It is pest free most of the time but can be prone to root rot. Yellow leaves due to iron deficiencies can be treated with iron chelate.

Cape May Companion Plants

Plant with companion plants such as Erica, Restio, Protea, buchu, herbaceous perennials such as Geranium incanum, Felicia aethiopica, Scabiosa incisa, and shrubs such as Salvia species, Metalasia muricata, Euryops virgineus.

How to harvest Cape May

Harvest as needed.

How to propagate Cape May


Take cuttings of approximately 7cm from the growing tip of the branch. Remove the bottom third of the foliage. Dip into hormone rooting powder and place in potting soil. Roots appear around 12 weeks.


Collect seeds and store in brown paper bag. Sow in autumn.

Special features of Cape May

Hedge plant

Due to its compact growth this is a good plant for hedging.

Attractive flowers

Attracts bees

Attracts butterflies

Attracts useful insects

Drought resistant

Once established it is quite drought tolerant.

Pot plant

Makes a good pot specimen, can be topiaried.

Repels harmful insects

Campers rub the leaves onto their bedding to repel ants and mosquitoes.

Other uses of Cape May

Grown for their flowers and overall appearance.


It is an excellent coastal plant and can be used as a topiary specimen or as a bonsai.

Odor repellent

The aromatic leaves containing essential oils are used by fishermen to remove the odour of redbait (aas) from their hands, hence the common name.

Insect repellant

Campers rub the leaves onto their bedding to keep ants and mosquitoes away. The leaves are used in potpourri and act as an insect repellant.

Confetti bush

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