Archive for the ‘Bulbs’ Category

20160620_171403sI had just planted a few Gloriosa tubers from my Aunt C three weeks before, and I was mesmerised by its rate of growth.20160607_175641s

It was like watching a video on a fast-forward mode; within a week, the nub on one of the tubers grew an amazing 30cm.

With each day, the spindly shoot grew taller, and within three short weeks of planting, I saw the first Gloriosa blossom.

The flower went through a spectrum of colours as it opened gradually; from a light apple green and pastel yellow, to a pale blush which gradually flamed into a hot, intense cerise.

20160615_071504sThe corollas of the Gloriosa Superba are reminiscent of orchids and, lilies; and their wavy, flaming reflexed petals resemble tongues of fire.

20160622_102715bNow as the flaming flowers of the first tuber lie spent, a second dormant tuber is stirring and showing signs of life. I’m hoping that this lethargic tuber will put up a similarly brilliant show.

If you are keen to have a go at the flaming Gloriosa, do exercise a bit of caution. It wouldn’t pay to get your fingers burnt by what is listed as one of the most breathtaking but dangerous flowers in the world.


 Care and propagation:

Semi-shade to full sun; garden soil, water moderately. Needs support. Propagate using tubers or seeds





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20150620_104242s “They’re a nuisance. I’ve pulled out a heap of it.”

Did I hear right?20150531_173505s My friends were getting rid of their Agapanthus; and here I am trying my darndest just to get one bulb to grow. I had planted my first Agapanthus in semi-shade so that it would be partially shielded from the afternoon heat. I thought it would grow better that way; obviously I thought wrong as it just dwindled away. 20150604_072116s Some time after that, I picked up a discarded bulb when I was up in the hills on the erroneous assumption that was an Agapanthus. The bulb grew vigorously but alas, it turned out to be the common, albeit beautiful, Hymenocallis instead.

Then about a month ago I saw (and bought) the Agapanthus again. With more than one plant in the pot and a bud to boot, it seemed like a great bargain. Even if it met the same fate as my first Agapanthus, at the very least, I convinced myself, I should be able to see that bud bloom.  20150615_172632s

This time, I left the potted plant in one of the sunniest spots of the garden. That way, I could still move it around if it couldn’t tolerate the scorching heat of the afternoon sun.

The bud swelled over the next two weeks and bloomed! How does a big cluster of fluted blue flowers sound like to you? I thought it looked heavenly, but then maybe it’s only because I have a predilection for blue flowers.

It really looks like the Agapanthus, which favours cooler temps, can take quite a beating. The straps of leaves are still green and fresh despite being baked under the hot sun. Now I’m waiting to see if it’ll bloom again. Now, THAT would be really be fantastic.


Care and propagation: Full sun, well-drained soil, water moderately. Propagate using seeds or by dividing clumps 20150614_100529b 20150614_134815b 20150620_104221b 20150620_104242b

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20140417_175731sWhile we are baking in the sun, elsewhere the earth is warming up slowly. Crocuses and snowdrops are popping up, heralding the coming of spring. Soon, gardens, parks and the countryside will be dominated by daffodils, tulips and other spring flowering bulbs.

I have a few types of bulbs, but none of the temperate ones above. This same time last year, the bud of a tropical bulb pushed its way out of the soil in my little corner of the world.

I’d never seen an orange hippeastrum with curved double petals so when I came across this unusual form, I bought two – one extra for insurance.20140419_084313s

The orange petals had a paler base and its form was quite unlike the other hippeastrums I have. While the rest are reminiscent of trumpets, this looked more like a delicately petalled skirt.

But this hippeastrum is tougher than it looks. It is planted right under the scorching sun, and as far as I can tell, it can take a real bashing. While other lilies suffer and get burnt, the hippeastrum takes it all in its stride.

But I’m keeping an eye on the Hippeastrum puniceum all the same. If I remember correctly, it bloomed on the last day of March last year – a day that has come to be a significant one for me. Would it do likewise this year and appear like clockwork just as all spring flowers do?


Care and propagation: Dappled shade to full sun, garden soil, water moderately. Propagate by dividing bulblets, chipping the bulb or by using seeds.


IMG_9091_Orange Double Flowered Amaryllis,Hippeastrum puniceum

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20140426_140753sWe were in for another electric tropical storm. The rain pounded away as the thunder and lightning continued their cacophonous medley.

IMG_5356sA couple of oceans away, it’s spring. Where, the rain drizzles lightly and where tulips and daffodils are the flavours of month. But nope, we’re not getting any of these gloriously coloured jaw-dropping floral carpets.

But there is a silver lining in our storm clouds; storm or rain lilies are popping up, even out of cracks – fluted pink and chalice-shaped yellow zephyranthes.




I prefer the bright yellow ones; splashes of unadulterated sunshine that come after a storm.

When not in bloom, however, the Zephyranthes Sulphurea is about as exciting as grass. The uninspiring straps of foliage blend right in with the green surrounds. But just when you have forgotten about its  existence, the plant awakens.

And that’s what’s appealing about it. Unlike the tulip which blooms like clockwork every year, you can never tell when the zephyranthes will spring its surprise.


Care and propagation: Full sun; garden soil, water moderately. Propagate using bulbs or seeds



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I’d never seen the bulbine frutescens before so when I first saw the plant, I hung on to it before anyone else could grab it.

I loved its small gorgeous citrus coloured flowers. Each tiny flower was crowned with a centre of hairy yellow filaments.

I didn’t even know its name and the plant and flowers looked too delicate to last long in the tropical heat. But, game for anything, I bought it all the same. I would have been happy enough if it could stay alive for a couple of months.

A gardening friend from Australia identified the plant for me. With its name, I found out more about the plant.

The bulbine frutescens is an African native and is commonly called ‘burn jelly plant’. Apparently the sap from its leaves can be used to heal burns, cuts, rashes, etc. – a beauty with a purpose! Even better, the bulbine is a perennial!

I planted the Bulbine frutescens out in full sun amidst other plants.
Although it grew, the Bulbine seemed a little reluctant to bloom. A couple of flower spikes peeked out feebly from the ground. So most of the time, all I had were slender leaves.

Recently, I trimmed a tall herb that overshadowed the Bulbine and pulled out the taller neighbouring zinnias.

All of a sudden the Bulbine woke up from its slumber. More than a dozen flower spikes have shot up and I have been blessed by a continuous show of the same beautiful miniatures that first fascinated me a year and a half ago.

Care and propagation: full sun, not fussy about soil, water sparingly. Propagate by division or by sowing seeds (no sign of seeds on my plants though)

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It’s the battle of the bulbs.

The Eucharist lily, Hippeastrum and Crinum Jagus are trying to out-do each other in the garden. At least they appear to be doing so. And if they really are, I’ll be the last to complain.

It’s as though each is putting on a show to prove that it’s lovelier than the other two lilies.

And the Crinum Jagus is definitely no less beautiful even if its name leaves a lot to be desired.

The phrase ‘swamp lily’ doesn’t exactly conjure the prettiest of pictures. It brings to mind thick, gooey muck – which belies the purity of the lily.

Our four big crinum bulbs share a 15-inch pot.

When I moved them from the porch where they were growing, they were not too pleased.

The disgruntled bulbs protested and the leaves suffered burnt marks as they adjusted (rather ungracefully) to the blazing sun.

I turned a blind eye and willed them to brave the heat. They didn’t disappoint.

The new leaves are blemish-free. They have acclimatized well and seem to be flowering more often now that they are situated in full sun.


I’m glad there isn’t really a battle between the three bulbs. If I was asked to choose a victor, I’d have to concede. How can anyone possibly choose between the three?


Care and propagation: Partial, to full sun; garden soil, water moderately. Propagate using bulbs (plant with the necks slightly exposed)

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I saw the hippeastrum yesterday; stately white blooms held loftily above its sturdy green stalk.

A long-time resident in our garden, the white hippeastrum is a firm favourite.

We started off with peach colored hippeastrums, then pink and red ones. They were a motley crew; each beautiful in its own way.


Then we found white hippeastrums and the rest took a back seat. I was enthralled.

Happily I gave away most of the other bulbs in my attempt to make room for the white ones.

Yes, I know. It’s unfair to play favourites, but the purity of the white was awesome.

Now, while the whites bloom and enjoy their elevated status, the rest seem to have forgotten how to. I think they are  sulking.

If I never believed plants had feelings, I do now. I wonder if talking to them would help? I guess I could try.


Care and propagation: Full sun, well drained soil. Water moderately. Propagate by dividing bulbs.

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When I first saw the Eucharist Lily, I had to lift the bloom to look at it properly. The shy lily seemed intent on hiding its glorious beauty from the world. And it was really, really beautiful.

It looks like a daffodil; only the petals are pure white and it has a pale green corona. Each fleshy stalk carries up to eight blooms.

Eucharis (from the Greek word ‘kharisma’) means ‘grace’ or ‘charm’, and in Latin, it means ‘elegant’. I think the flower has been aptly named.

The price tag for the pot of Eucharist Lily stunned me. I had to forgo the treasure but it became my mission to find a cheaper version elsewhere.

I found it.

This tropical lily has been in the garden for a few years now. It is an easy plant to care for and isn’t prone to disease. It loves the warmth and high humidity and has taken everything that the tropical weather has been dishing out in its stride.

The lily has since grown into a nice clump and I’ve had the chance to share its bulbs with friends who’ve been admiring the plant.

For a long while my Eucharist lily has bloomed just once a year. The rest of the time,  I’ve been content with its handsome broad leaves.

Lately though, the clump of Eucharist lilies has been blooming more often; four times over the last three months and I’m still counting.

I am still in the habit of lifting each bloom to look at its full beauty. I wonder if the Eucharist lily will ever realise that its own stunning beauty and hold its head up high.


Care and propagation: Bright indirect light, well drained soil, water moderately. Propagation: division of bulbs.

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