Family: Hyacinthaceae
Common Name: Cape Cowslip

Originally from South Africa, lachenalias are small bulbs planted for autumn to spring display. When mass planted, the upright spikes of small, white, yellow or red, tubular flowers resemble marching soldiers. While red, yellow and white flowers are familiar, there is a surprising colour range amongst the numerous species. In the new types being grown, colours include pink, purple and cream. The strap-like leaves are sometimes spotted at the base. In frost-prone climates, these bulbs make ideal pot plants for the cool greenhouse or conservatory. The flowers retain their colour after drying, and are good cut blooms.


L. aloides grows to 30 cm (12 in). The leaves are sometimes spotted and the flower spikes comprise drooping, yellow bells with red tips. Var. aurea has orange flowers; var. con­spicua has orange flowers with purple veins and yellowish tips; var. luteola has lemon flowers with green tips; 'Nelsonii' has yellow flowers with green tinges; var. quadricolour has red flow­ers which graduate to greenish tips, and have a purplish colour inside.

L. bulbifera has orange flowers, coloured purple inside, and grows to 25 cm (10 in).

L. liliiflora grows to 30 cm (12 in), with white, cylindrical flowers.

L. mutabilis has blueish green flowers which turn brown with age. This species grows to 30 cm (12 in).

L. orchioides grows to 40 cm (16 in) high. The leaves are often spotted with purple and the flowers are coloured pale blue, shading to green­ish yellow. Var. glaucina has flowers which are shaded blue to a purplish tone.


Under glass, grow the bulbs in pots of soil-based potting compost, planting in late summer or early autumn, 10 cm (4 in) deep. Give maximum light. Water normally when in full growth but ease off as the leaves die down, and do not water when bulbs are dormant. Resume watering when growth starts in autumn. Propagate by detaching bulblets when repotting.


Zone 10.

Laccospadix      Laelia