Thursday, July 10, 2014

My favorite plant this week: Bulbine frutescens

My favorite plant this week is a shrubby groundcover succulent, Bulbine frutescens.  While it's not a plant that stops you in your tracks and causes you to gawk, it's a solid performer.  Drought and heat tolerant, it didn't even notice our May heatwaves.




I bought 3 of the yellow-flowering species in 4-inch pots in early March for our new backyard border.  The clumps, which spread by rhizomes, have expanded significantly, now measuring about one foot (30.5cm) in diameter, and they may double their size at maturity.  My plants are currently under one foot tall but the flower spikes grow up to 2 feet (61cm) tall.





I picked up 2 of the somewhat smaller orange-flowered variety, 'Hallmark,' in late May to replace 2 shrimp plants (Justicia brandegeeana) pulverized by May's heat.




They grow in full sun to light shade.  Despite their name, these are not bulbous plants.  They hail from the coastal area of South Africa and are known by a variety of common names, including jelly burn plant, snake flower and cat's tail.  The name "jelly burn plant" derives from the fact that the succulent foliage contains glycoproteins, like some Aloe, and can be used to treat burns, rashes and itches.  They're reported to be hardy to 20F (-6.67C).  At 10F (-12C), the foliage will die down to the ground but the plant can come back from its roots.

In very hot interior areas, the plant may stop blooming during summer months but should begin blooming again once the temperatures cool in the fall.  Mine weren't bothered by the May heatwaves but June was relatively cool here and it remains to be seen whether or not they'll continue to bloom at the same rate through a sustained period of hot weather.




The plants provide a bright touch of color in the border and need very little in the way of care.  Bulbine frutescens is my contribution to Loree's favorite plants meme at danger garden this week.  Click here to see her favorite and to find links to other gardener's selections.


19 comments:

  1. Those are really pretty! wish I could grow them here. So many beautiful things you can grow there that I can't.

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    1. Ah, but there are also many plants you grow that I covet, Deanne.

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  2. I'm glad you gave the spotlight to this plant because it really is a winner. I have both yellow and orange and although they have few blooms right now I know they will perform again in the fall as they did in the spring. Mine took a terrible hit last winter and I ended up pulling them out and potting up what seemed to be alive. They had very long bare stems and needed rejuvenation. Now I have a couple of good pots to plant later int he year. Also for the first time in 10 years I had many seedlings. They are growing nicely although no blooms as yet.

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    1. I'm glad to hear they've performed well for you, Jenny. I'm hoping I can detach some of the offsets and spread them more broadly about my garden.

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  3. I love those bright little flowers! Great favorite!

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  4. Thanks for this report on Bulbine; a friend gave me a pot in spring which I haven't planted into the garden yet but your guidance will help me decide where it should go. As ever you give such a full and clear description of your favourite plants.

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    1. I'm glad you found the post useful, Christina. Good luck with your Bulbine!

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  5. I love it. The flowers remind me of those of a South African plant I grow called Albuca shawii . It has similar starry yellow flowers.

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    1. I looked up the Albuca shawii, Chloris. I like it! I've never seen it sold locally but I see that there's a mail order source in Northern California.

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  6. So fun to see all your different plants, all new to me.
    Mariana

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    1. This is a Mediterranean climate, Mariana, so I much of what grows well here comes from those areas of the world.

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  7. Great information. I have this plant but didn't know that it came from South Africa. It's ALWAYS in bloom all summer long here in Houston and it doubles in size every year. I didn't know you could use it like Aloe Vera. That's handy information.
    Nice post. David/:0)

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    1. Thanks, David. I'm happy you found it useful.

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  8. One thing I enjoy about your blog is how you introduce new plants to me. I always like durable, heat tolerant plants. Hallmark is a beauty!

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  9. GOT to love a plant that can get through those hot days! And look pretty while doing it!

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    1. It definitely handles the heat here, Amy.

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  10. I've almost bought this one a few times, perhaps with your gentle push I'll take the plunge...

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