Saturday, 24 July 2021

Bulbs from South Africa and South America for A Long Flowering Season pt 1 & 2


Warm Bulbs What Are They?

Spring flowering bulbs like daffodils, tulips, freesias, bluebells, to name a few are all bulbs from the northern hemisphere. They do best in cool climates and once the main spring show is over, there's nothing left to excite.
  • It's time to changeup or simply extend the flowering season to what garden designer Peter Nixon terms 'warm bulbs.' 
  • These come from warmer climates such as South Africa and South America, therefore are more suited to a large part of eastern Australia-the 'cool sub trops.' (Cool sub-tropical).
  • Scadoxus multiflorus var. katarineae photo P. Nixon
    The other benefits of these spectacular bulbs are that they flower much later and longer;  late spring into summer and even autumn.
We're starting of this 4 part series with 'bulbs for bright semi-shade.'
  • The first group are Scadoxus species, some of which evergreen.
  • This group DO NOT like low light levels, and poor  drainage.
  • If growing under a tree, the canopy must be well above so the bulbs are not shaded.
  • Even morning sun would be good.
  • Bulbs are the size of an onion.
  • DO NOT bury the bulbs as you would a tulip are narcissus. The neck of these bulbs MUST be half-emerged.
Peter mentions these:
Scadoxus multiflorus var. katarinaea - Fireball Lily (but also grows in Southern Highlands equating to higher altitude South Africa). 

Scadoxus membranaceus -entirely staminate and surrounded with pale bracts.
Haemanthus albifloss
Scadoxus membranaceus photo P Nixon

I have some of these warm bulbs-namely two varieties of Haemanthus.
One flowers easily, and the other, I’ve yet to discover where it prefers to grow so it puts out the red paintbrush flower.

PLAY: Bulbs -bright semi-shade_16th June 2021

I'm talking with Peter Nixon, garden designer from Paradisus garden design.     

Instagram paradisus_sea_changer FB Paradisus Garden Design

If you have any questions or feedback for me or Peter about these bulbs, why not write in to or

Warm Bulbs pt. 2-Harsh Western Aspect 

Every garden has an aspect that’s hard to plant out because it’s either too shady or too harsh and dry or even spot that receives hot western sun .
Today I’m focusing on bulbs that can give you a long display in the warmer months but have evolved to withstand hot and dry months.

Haemanthus coccineus photo M Cannon
These bulbs originate where they are not exposed to very cold winters but have evolved to withstand hot dry conditions.

The bulbs in this group are in the Amaryllidaceae family which consists of mainly bulbs with long strappy leaves. The flowers are usually in an umbel-like cluster on a short or long scape.

Quite a few are known to have large showy flowers.
Haemanthus coccineus or 'blood lily likes an exposed location. 

It will refuse to flowers if in a shady, lush location. 
Don’t be like me and put the blood lily in too much shelter so the leaves grow long and the flower season trigger is missed.
  • A dead give-away is if the leaves are quite long and extended, then the bulb is in too much shade.
If you live in Adelaide, say a couple of streets back from the beach such as in Brighton, then expect your 'blood lily' to take off like mad. The low humidity and winter rains are a perfect climate for this bulb.
Pink blood lily photo P Nixon

You can also look for the interspecific hybrid of Haemanthus albifloss x H. coccineus
If you love the shape of tulip flowers, then plant a row of these bulbs which will flower summer to autumn.
Brunsvigia greagaria  photo P Nixon

Brunsvigia gregaria which has agapanthus like flower on steroids in a crimson coloured bloom.
Or even the combined genus of brunsvigia and amaryllis ending up with Amarygia.

Let’s find out more by listening to the podcast with Peter Nixon

If you have any questions or feedback for me or Peter about these bulbs, why not write in to or

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