Botanical name: Lachenalia bulbifera
Family name: Liliaceae / Hyacinthaceae
Origins: Species from South Africa's winter rainfall area.
Lachenalia bulbifera (sometimes sold as L.pendula) is one of about a dozen species of Lachenalia which are easy to cultivate in the garden or as container plants in a warm sunny spot. In cooler, wetter climates they are probably better as container plants.
L. rubida is a closely related species, though not as easy to grow or free flowering.
L. bulbifera is one of the earliest species to flower and can be combined with other lachenalias or bulb species in a container to extend the flowering season. Flowering time can be delayed by dry storage of bulbs and later planting, or in pot culture flowering season can be extended by planting some of the bulbs first and then when these are 3 or 4 cm tall plant more of the same species that have been stored dry to stay dormant.
Being from winter rainfall climate they enjoy plenty of water, but at the same time, good drainage. Some Lachenalia species actually grow in seasonal swamps, actually being in water when in flower, but in cultivation they are likely to be exposed to root diseases not found in their natural habitat, so good drainage is a good rule of thumb.
Plants in full flower are good to brighten up the indoors in winter but should only be inside for 2 or 3 days at a time, otherwise they will quickly become drawn in low light conditions. Good light, preferably direct sunlight helps them to grow healthy, firm leaves and stems. Even under glass they can be drawn and show abnormal colouring to the foliage and flowers.
Too much fertiliser can make growth too lush as well. In the garden, average soils are usually adequate for growth, and the addition of compost will encourage strong growth and good flowering. Good strong flower stems can be picked for indoor showing.
As soon as flowering is finished container plants may be left to dry out for their dry seasonal dormant period. January-February is the best time to repot while they are completely dormant, and dry storage may be started.
At repotting time the bulbs should be graded so that the small ones can be grown on elsewhere while only the medium and large flowering bulbs are repotted, thereby avoiding overcrowding.
Being winter flowering they make good bulbs for underplanting deciduious trees, as long as slugs are controlled and fallen leaves are cleared off the new growth in autumn.
Lachenalia species also come with pink, blue, white and yellow flowers.
Lachenalias usually build up on their own by making bulblets around the original bulb, and with L. bulbifera, they will usually flower the season after they are formed. Seeds form if there are 2 different clones of the same species to cross pollinate, and will flower in their third season from seed. Hybrids are rare.
Lachenalia bulbifera is sometimes offered for sale
in garden centres under the name of L. pendula.
For other species:
- Parva Plants list some species of Lachenalias: email: email@example.com
- Mark Jury Nursery also list several Lachenalia species:
- Daffodil Acre ph:0-7-552 5383
- Altorf Spring Bulbs - Waimauku ph: 0800 103 747
- Ayn Dara Nurseries email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Joy Plants ph: 0-9-238 9129
- Kereru Bulbs 0-3-325 1003
- Mara Nurseries ph: 0-6-272 2806
- The Ridges ph: 0-6-327 8484