GROWING VELTHEIMIA

7 deg C/45 deg F

There seems to be considerable botanical uncertainty about the number of species in this genus – probably only about two – and their naming. The bulb usually sold as V. capensis is claimed by some authorities to be V. bracteata (syn. V. viridifolia). Whatever it is. it would be worth the attention of plant breeders. It has distinct possibilities because of its easy culture, resistance to cool conditions. attractive foliage, and early flower spikes.

The flower is remarkably like a small red-hot poker spike (Knipholia) and also resembles the flower of some aloes. The colour, however, is unfortunately rather dismal, being a drab pinkish shade. Even so, flowering as it does from February onwards, and lasting a fair time, it makes a particularly useful addition to the houseplant range. Pot the bulbs in autumn, leaving the tips just above the surface of the compost. Set

one bulb to each 13cm (5 in.) pot. and use any of the usual potting composts. Water cautiously at first and until the foliage begins to grow freely. The leaves. forming a rosette around the bulb top. are elongated and have attractively waved edges. The bulb is evergreen and can be kept very slightly moist the year round in cool conditions. In its native South Africa it flowers from July to September and grows in shady places. Water freely when the foliage is making active growth, but rest the bulb by reducing watering from summer to autumn. Trouble from pests or diseases is most unusual, and veltheimias can be relied upon to flower well.

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