Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Scadoxus multiflorus

The garden is full of ornamental onions now; these plants bloom in mostly quiet, unassertive colors and owe their attention getting status to their intriguing forms. Hybridists have done a lot to bring us bigger flower umbels in these ornamental onions, but so far the colors have remained on the quiet side.

The image above is of Scadoxus multiflorus, an onion look-alike from southern Africa which is blooming now. If the ornamental onion breeders could combine the ease of culture of the onions with a color such as the one above, then the ornamental onions would enter a new realm of garden worthiness.

Now back to reality: the Scadoxus is easily grown. It grows in a pot filled with the local clay. I keep it wet all summer as long as the foliage is green. Occasionally it will get some fertilizer in the water. Sometime in November the foliage ripens. At that point the plant is brought inside (unless an early freeze made that necessary earlier) and allowed to dry out. It spends the winter dry. The pot goes out onto the deck in April. A good soaking generally gets things going again. This is one of those plants with a very appealing work to reward ratio: you don’t have to do much to get good results. It’s been repeating this cycle here for years, blooming yearly and sometimes setting a few fruits.

Older works sometimes list this as Haemanthus multiflorus.

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