Monday, 10 November 2014

Jacobean splendour

One of my favourite spring flowering bulbs is Sprekelia formosissima. This Mexican bulb of the Amaryllis family is best known as the Jacobean Lily, but is also called the Aztec Lily. Whatever name you choose, this plant looks best when planted as a group in a pot.

The Jacobean Lily in flower

The plants principal common name references the uncanny resemblance the blood red flowers have to the heraldic cross worn by the Spanish Catholic Order of St Jacob of Calatrava. This species has been in cultivation for a long time. It is listed growing (as Amaryllis formosissima) at the Botanic Gardens in Sydney in 1828.

The unassuming long-necked bulbs of Sprekelia formosissima

This bulb is easy to grow in warm temperate or sub tropical climes. The long-necked, drab looking, bulbs should be planted during winter, making sure that the necks stand proud of the potting mixture. Like ugly ducklings these hardy plants sprout attractive lily-like leaves in spring, soon followed by the flowering stem. While an easy plant to grow not all bulbs successfully bloom each year, so it is best to grow in groups. Of the three bulbs shown above only one had a flower. In Sydney these plants usually flower in early November.
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