Schizostylis: kaffir lily

Height 60-90cm (2-3ft)

Planting distance 15cm (6in)

Flowers in autumn

Moist fertile soil

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 scarlet flowers which are crocus-shaped at first but open into stars in bright sun.

Kaffir lilies are 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).

Cultivation

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.

Propagation

Every two or three years, lift and divide the clumps into clusters of five or six shoots and replant in early to mid spring.

Pests and diseases

Botrytis may infect the leaves and buds.

22. February 2012 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Annuals, Biennials, Bulbous Plants, Featured Articles | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Schizostylis: kaffir lily

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