Eucomis punctata

The plant is known chiefly to growers of South African succulents who often use it to add variety to their collections. The 10 or so species that make up the genus are found in Cape Province, Natal and partly also in the Orange Free State.

They are bulbs from which rise elongate basal leaves that are often spotted or wavy on the margin. The flowers are arranged in spikes on strong upright stems topped by a small tuft of leaves. The bulbs are usually globular.

Three species are generally found in cultivation. The first is has leaves up to 60 cm (2 ft) long with a brown-spotted underside and flower stem about 30 cm (1 ft) tall. The second is E. bicolor, which has strap-shaped leaves about 50 cm (20 in) long and 10 cm (4 in) wide with beautiful wavy margins and greenish-yellow flowers edged violet or reddish violet with a small rosette of red-edged leaves topping the spike. The third is E. undulata with leaves also almost 50 cm (20 in) long, marked with brown dash-lines on the underside and wavy on the margin. The spikes are relatively insignificant, only about 15 cm (6 in) tall, composed of greenish flowers. The leaves forming the tuft at the top are also wavy.

These plants are not hard to grow but need a definite period of rest in winter. They may be grown either in open ground in the garden, where they should be provided with a thick layer of dry leaves for the winter, or in a warm home. In this case the bulbs should be lifted in the autumn and stored in a cool, dry spot. They may also be left in the pot and stored dry in a cellar or frost-proof shed.

Eucomis is readily propagated by offsets of the bulb and also by means of seeds, but the latter is a lengthier procedure. The compost should be hu-musy, with sand. One of the peat and sand soilless potting composts would be ideal.

15. November 2011 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Featured Articles, House Plants | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Eucomis punctata

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