Encephalartos lehmannii is a beautiful blue cycad from the continent of Africa. It has quickly become one of my favorites. The species originates from South Africa, Eastern Cape province. This area is know for its desert like conditions. There is rainfall, however sporadic, and drought is common. Encephalartos lehmannii has beautiful blue leaves which make it a standout in the landscape. It's a medium sized cycad, rarely exceeding 4-5 feet in height. Leaves on mature plants can reach 3-5 feet in length. Leaflets are generally inserted in the rachis at an angle. When viewed in a cross section the leaflets form a "V" shape. There are some distinct variations of E. lehmannii. One of the better know variations comes from the area of Kirkwood, which it is named after. The Kirkwood form has leaves that are longer and more arched than the "typical" form. These forms are sought after by collectors for their "graceful" look. A useful feature used in identification is the yellow-tan collar where the leaflets are attached to the caudex of the plant. This coloration is more intense than the other blue cycads from South Africa. Older leaves will lose their blue color and turn green.
Encephalartos lehmannii is of easy culture. It was one of the first blue cycads I bought. I have grown many plants in both the ground and in containers. As with most cycads good drainage is imperative. Plants planted in the ground will grow much faster than ones in containers. They also prefer part to full sun. They seem to enjoy hot temps. Avoid below freezing temperatures for long periods of time. Propagate from seeds or pups. One must have both male and female plants to produce seed. Growth rate is moderate when young, and speeds up after caudex size reaches over 3" in diameter. This is the size plant that I find will thrive best when planted in the ground. I avoid planting young plants in the ground. Encephalartos lehmannii will benefit from regular fertilization.