Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Haemanthus



I planted one small pot of the South African bulb Haemanthus coccineus many years ago and it has quietly grown and multiplied: flowering every year in April. A nearby Lophomyrtus had grown so much it was threatening to smother it completely so I thought I had better dig it up and move it somewhere more open. What a surprise I received when I dug the clump! My one bulb had multiplied into several - the largest being bigger than a grapefruit! The flower is a great talking point in the garden as they emerge before the leaves and look a little odd appearing through the bare earth. Commonly known as the shaving brush lily or blood lily or ox tongue lily the long (to 40cm or so) tongue-like leaves emerge after the flowers have died. It is important to keep some snail bait out for slugs and snails at all times once the leaves have emerged, otherwise you will spend the entire season looking at holey leaves as I have learned. This year thanks to all the rain we have received the flowers were as big as I have ever seen them - each one the size of a tennis ball. I have replanted the clump in a more open area and hope that this disturbance will not set them back too much.

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