Encephalartos ferox is a beautiful ornamental cycad. This species of Encephalartos originates from the coastlines of South Africa. Most plants are found growing in part to full sun. Their native environment is very hot and humid. Most plants grow in well draining, sandy soil. The leaves of Encephalartos ferox are very prickly, and shaped like a large holly leaf, hence the name ferox. The one characteristic that sets this species apart from are the bright orange cones. As with all cycads individual plants are male or female. Female cones are large and round shaped, while male cones are long and elongated. Leaves are dark green growing to 3-6 feet in length, shorter in full sun and longer in the shade.This is not a tall growing cycad. Trunks grow up to 3-5 feet in height. This is one of my favorite landscape plants.
Encephalartos ferox is of easy culture. I have found in my personal experience that they tend to look better if planted in part shade. However, be ready for the leaves to grow long and lush if planted in part shade. In full sun plants grow compact and tight, with foliage being lighter green in color. Encephalartos ferox appreciates well drained soil, and can be grown in the landscape and containers. Avoid cold temps below freezing.
If you want to produce seeds you must have both a male and female plant. The female plant must be hand pollinated when receptive. If all goes well you will have seeds in about six months. After harvest, the seeds will have to sit for a few weeks before planting while the embryos develop.
E. ferox is a great landscape plant. I use it in part sun situations. Plant in a conspicuous place in the landscape to take full advantage of the beautiful orange cones! There are also many different leaf forms. Collectors are always searching for that "special" form they don't have! This species is a must for any cycad enthusiast!