On the Dry Side: South Africa offers treasure trove of winter-growing bulbs

South Africa has an extraordinary number of plant species found nowhere else, including hundreds of species of bulbs. Some of these bulbs are well-established in the gardening world, such as Agapanthus or Amaryllis belladonna, but others are little known except to bulb aficionados. They vary greatly in size — from large ones, with bulbs as big as a football, down to miniatures, with bulbs smaller than a pea.

While some grow and flower during the summer months, others spring to life toward the end of the year and grow through the winter. The winter growers come from the western part of the country, which has a Mediterranean climate much like that of California. With very little rainfall during the summer months, these plants respond by sleeping through the dry summers and waking up when the rainy season begins in autumn.

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Often, they are so strongly adapted to this regimen that they do not last long when grown in places with wet summers. Happily for us, they present little difficulty in the coastal parts of California, where winters are not too cold and the rainfall arrives just when they need it.

Among South Africa’s treasure trove of winter-growing bulbs is the large genus Lachenalia, with 133 species. …read more

Source:: The Mercury News

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