Thursday, January 14, 2010

Plant profile: Chasmanthe

C. floribunda
I originally thought the Chasmanthes at P. garden were Crocosmias. We do have Crocosmias, but when the Chasmanthes flowered, an astute blog follower pointed out my mistake. Shame on me! What can I say? The corms that both genera grow from look just the same... ho hum.

Latin name: Chasmanthe floribunda  ("chas-MAN-thee flor-ah-BUN-dah")
Common name: Cobra Lily, African Flag, African Cornflag
Originally from: South Africa
Blooms: January through March.
Light: Full sun.
Water: Winter rain only.
Drainage: Excellent
Height x width: 4-5' tall. Each bulb's leaves are just a 6" wide bunch, but the clumps grow quickly.
USDA Zone: 9-10b
Where to see in P. Garden: Clumps of this lovely plant are flowering now in the brights bed and left bed in various spots.

C. floribunda var. duckittii
This graceful plant is in the crocus family, and there are three species in the genus, of which we have two varieties of one species, the orange Chasmanthe floribunda and the yellow Chasmanthe floribunda var. duckittii.

In their native habitat the flowers are pollinated by sunbirds. Here at P. garden they get plenty of attention from hummingbirds. They seed pretty readily, and new clumps are always popping up when the rains start which is lovely.

They are winter growers - the green sword-like leaves show up in December, flowers start arriving in January or  February, and they are all done by April. We usually cut all the leaves back in August. Actually that should have tipped me off that they were not Crocosmias, which perform on an opposite schedule.  Come to think of it, I wonder if anyone has ever mixed the two bulbs together in a bed so that when one is dying the other is sprouting? Nonstop flowers, or a big mess?

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