Zephyranthes grandiflora: Zephyr Lily

If it is truly a pity that some species of plants are not more widely cultivated, then this applies first and foremost to the members of this genus. They are interesting, undemanding, nicely flowering, small plants that find the conditions of modern homes ideal for their growth.

The Zephyranthes grandiflora (syn. Z. carinata) is from Mexico and Jamaica. The flow-ers, which appear in spring, are about 6 cm (2-1/2 in) across and a lovely glowing colour that makes them the focal point of any room. In collections the plant is often found under the synonym Z. carinata as well as under the wrong name Z. rosea. The latter, however, is a smaller species from Cuba, which flowers in autumn. Most rewarding as a house plant is Z. atamasco from the southern states of America which produces white flowers from early spring until mid-summer given the right conditions (liberal watering and additional feed). Similar are Z. Candida from La Plata and Z. tubispatha from the Antilles, Venezuela and Colombia, which, however, are very rarely found in cultivation. A beautiful species, namely the yellow Z. aurea, grows in fallow land in Peru, on the very outskirts of the capital Lima; it is used by the local Indians to decorate graves and chapels. It flowers in autumn, the same as Z. rosea, and both can be used in mixed plantings outdoors in the open. Other spring-flowering species are Z. andersonii from Argentina (yellow and red); Z. verecunda from Mexico (green, white and red); and Z. versicolor from Brazil (red and white).

Cultivation is the same for all zephyranthes. The bulbs should be planted at a shallow depth, those that have a neck should be planted with part of the neck above the surface of the compost. The growing medium should be a rich mixture such as John Innes potting compost No. 2. An important requirement is plenty of light (there can never be too much). Most species (spring-flowerers) have a dormant period in summer at which time watering, which is otherwise liberal, should be reduced to the minimum. Propagation is very easy, for older bulbs produce large numbers of offsets which will general-ly bear flowers within a year.

15. November 2011 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Featured Articles, House Plants | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Zephyranthes grandiflora: Zephyr Lily


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