Grow Exotic Flowers from Africa

Who knew I'd finally be learning geography in my 60s? It was never a strong suit for me. Like history, it just never interested me in grade school. It wasn't until I started to travel that I began to peek beyond the borders of my "homeland."

It was in my ever-widening search for more plants that I discovered Africa. South Africa that is, specifically the southern Cape region.

Some really cool plants come from there, and many of them bloom in the winter and early spring. I'm happy to say the Lachenalia I purchased and bloomed last year is flowering again. The variety is 'Rupert', and it's a luscious lilac purple color.

In its first year, planted early November. By Dec. 21,
Lachenalia 'Rupert' put out some impressive leaves.
According to Cape Bulbs by Richard L. Doutt, this Hyacinth relative is pronounced lah-shel-ahl'-ee-a, named in 1784 for professor of botany, Werner de La Chenal in Switzerland.

First its leaves emerge--each as substantial as a leather strap, in a vivid green with irregular spots of deep burgundy.

It was the Lachenalia's need for supplemental light that led me to purchase lighting fixtures. When the leaves appear, they'll tend to be floppy, especially if they don't get enough light.

Chubby little flower spikes emerge slowly.
At this point, these drought tolerant little bulbs get thirsty. I perform two tests to make sure the soil is dry enough to benefit from a deep watering. I feel the leaves. If they're soft and somewhat limp, I'll sharpen a pencil down to fresh wood and stick it into the soil, just under half way. If it comes out dry or with a dry soil residue, I water it well. Although they enjoy more moisture than you'd think for a bulb with such succulent leaves, they will easily rot with too much water.

Lachenalia 'Rupert' grows flower spikes that lengthen as they mature to a height of around 10".


  1. You have the most amazing collection of indoor plants!

    1. It's a sickness; perhaps just an obsession. I'm pretty sure you know what I mean, judging by your spring haul photos. It's preferable to collecting rubber bands and ceramic dust collectors, don't you think?

  2. What pretty little blooms. I can see why you like this little bulb. Isn't it amazing how we can travel all around the world via our plants.

  3. Around the world in 80 plants would be a fun project.