2 deg C/36 deg F

For some unaccountable reason this plant is sometimes described as a bulb. In fact, it has very fleshy roots. Although native to Natal, it is almost hardy, but if exposed to frost will be caused immediate disaster. The leaves become soft and glassy, eventually rotting. With only brief exposure to temperatures below freezing, the roots may survive, and new leaves will form during the following summer. It is. therefore, a good plant for quite chilly but frost-proof places around the home. In cold places in winter the roots should be kept almost dry – but not bone dry. Well-grown plants produce handsome. arching strap-shaped foliage, but it is the extremely showy flowers that really catch the eye. These take the form of large umbels of bright orange-red. large trumpet-shaped blooms, borne on stout stems above the foliage. They appear in late spring under normal conditions, but will flower earlier with extra warmth. For the plant to be at its best it is necessary to have large pots – a final

25cm (10in) pot. if possible. However. quite good flowers can be obtained with 18cm (7in) pots. The plants are best left with their roots undisturbed for as long as possible, potting being carried out early in the year for young plants. Old plants will eventually have to be divided, as the roots will cram the pot. It is usually best to cut through the roots with a very sharp knife if it is difficult to separate them without causing bruising and damage. Divide the roots so that each segment has a clump of foliage, and repot in a pot that comfortably takes the roots. Water cautiously immediately after potting – wet conditions may cause roots to rot. The best time to divide the plants is in early summer, when they begin to make new foliage. After flowering, cut away the flowers low down the stem. If left, large seed-capsules will form which turn red when ripe. This puts an unnecessary strain on the plant’s resources. The plants rarely have pest troubles, but red spider mites are a possibility, and so are mealy bugs. If exposed to excessive sunlight, the foliage may become scorched and developed brown patches.

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