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Liparia splendens - Mountain Dahlia 

Liparia splendens - the "Mountain Dahlia" - is one of the gems of South Africa's Cape region.  Seldom seen in cultivation, it puts on a beautiful show of yellow & orange Dahlia-like blooms from autumn through spring.  It's not actually a Dahlia, but a flamboyant member of the Legume family.  It is rare in the wild, and unfortunately at risk of becoming extinct.  The Mountain Dahlia is challenging to grow, but a rewarding plant for the experienced gardener.  Fresh seeds are rarely seen for sale.

Liparia splendens - Mountain Dahlia

Liparia splendens is a small bush that grows about 3 feet tall and wide.  Its leathery leaves and woody branches are often burned away by wildfire each year, which actually stimulates flowering.  The drooping flower clusters contain about 15 blooms in varying hues of yellow and orange, with reddish bracts.  These 3 inch wide floral heads are pollinated by birds in the wild.  The Mountain Dahlia is threatened in the wild from the expansion of housing and agriculture. 

Liparia splendens - Mountain Dahlia

Since the plant isn't widely grown, i don't know what temperatures it is capable of handling.  It comes from a mild climate with cooler nights, so it's possible that it may not thrive in consistently hot conditions (above 85 degrees F / 29 degrees C) with warm nights.  It probably can not tolerate much frost and should be protected from temperatures below about 26 degrees F (-3 C).  It likes mostly sunny conditions, although some afternoon shade may be needed in warmer climates. 

It may be grown in a large container in a well-draining, slightly-acid soil mix of low fertility.  It likes adequate soil moisture, and also good air circulation.  To encourage flowering, remove a few of the older branches each year to simulate fire.  Like many Legume family plants, it benefits from nitrogen-fixing bacteria on the roots.  I will supply a packet of this bacteria with your seed purchase.

Liparia splendens - Mountain Dahlia

Photos 1 & 3 by Derek Keats, 2 & 4 by Andrew Massyn

 

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Turquoise Puya

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