Interesting bulbs: a small selection

Bulbous plants which can be grown indoors, can be classified in terms of cultivation difficulty. Certain genera are more easy to grow than others.

Bulbs from the winter rainfall region of South Africa and Namibia are more difficult to grow than the bulbs from the summer rainfall area. Not all summer-growers are as easy or as difficult to grow. Some genera or species are more difficult to grow. On the other hand one species or genus can be difficult to grow for me, but not for you. Keep this always in mind!

Bulbs which are easy to grow
Bulbous plants which are easy to grow in my opinion are, e.g., Bowiea volubilis, Ammocharis coranica and most Drimiopsis and Sinningia species. These plants are all summer-growers and flower in the period between April and October. They are dormant during our winter months.

Bowiea volubulis is in a way a strange plant. The true bulb forms an up to 1.5-2 meter long stem which is strongly branched. The plants has no leaves. The ends of the branched stem look like leaves.The small flowers are green coloured. Ammocharis coranica is native to South Africa and flowers easily in cultivation. The flowers are pink-purple coloured. Although the plant is not very difficult to grow, it is not easy to obtain a plant or seeds.

I think almost every amateur bulbgrower has grown Drimiopsis maculata or at least knows how the plant looks like: arrow-shaped leaves on a petiole, produced by a bulb which grows above the surface of the soil. The leaves are covered with spots in different shades of green to purple. The bulb produces offsets easily. After a couple of years you have a container full of plants. The best-known Sinningia species is S. canescens. This species from Brazil is better known under its former name Rechsteineria leucotricha. The tuber produces a stem and four leaves which are densily covered with small, white-gray hairs. Even the orange-red, urn-shaped flowers are covered with white-gray hairs.

Bulbs which are more difficult to grow
Bulbous plants which are more a chance to grow are, e.g., Bulbine, Massonia and Lachenalia species. These genera are winter-growers and grow and flower in the period November till April. If you want to know how to grow them, then check the page "Winter-growers" of this web site.

Bulbine species have a small root-corm which forms generally succulent leaves. The leaves usually have dark green stripes on the upper side. The flowers are characteristic for the genus: the tepals are yellow and curve back almost as far as the flower stalk and the hairy stamen filaments.

Massonia species produce two, glabrous leaves which are spreading, often flat on the ground. The inflorescence is almost stemless and is surrounded by large, green or white bracts. This gives Massonia its characteristic look. Did you know that there are Lachenalia species with leaves in various appearences (colour, shape, size and venation) and flower colours. Some species have grass like leaves without spots, others have large leaves which are covered with green, brown or purple spots.

If you are looking for a real challenge, why don't you try a Boophone or a Gethyllis species?

As far as I know there is only one Boophone in cultivation: B. disticha. The plant forms opposite, linear leaves. The plant grows very slowly in cultivation. I don't know if this species flowers in our climate. Even more difficult to grow than Boophone are Gethyllis species. Characteristic for the genus are the large, scented fruits and the leaves. The thin, long, at the base purple spotted leaves grow mostly erect and are spirally twisted. They are enveloped by a sheath which is also purple spotted. During the dormant period the leaves die off, but don't fall off.