Schizostylis: kaffir lily
Height 60-90cm (2-3ft)
Planting distance 15cm (6in)
Flowers in autumn
Sunny sheltered site
Rhizomes available in spring
This splendid genus of autumn-flowering plants comes from South Africa. One species – Schizostylis coccinea – is relatively hardy in Britain, though it won’t survive in the coldest districts of the north and east. Its flower spikes stand above the erect sword-like leaves. They bear up to ten bright scarletwhich are crocus-shaped at first but open into stars in bright sun.
Kaffirare valuable for herbaceous borders, as they bloom from early to late autumn when most other herbaceous plants are coming to the end of their display. They also make excellent long-lasting cut flowers. Popular varieties include ‘Major’ (deep pink), ‘Mrs Hegarty’ (pale pink) and ‘November Cheer’ (shell pink).
Plant in early spring, in moist fertile soil in a sheltered sunny position. Set the rhizomes 10cm (4in) deep and 15cm (6in) apart. Mulch every mid or late spring with forest bark or compost to keep the soil moist and encourage new growth. In summer water freely. In winter cut down any untidy growths and protect the roots with a layer of bracken or leaves.
Every two or three years, lift and divide the clumps into clusters of five or six shoots and replant in early to.
Pests and diseases
Botrytis may infect the leaves and buds.