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Brunsvigia orientalis - Candelabra Flower

This is a close look at the spectacular Brunsvigia orientalis - the "Candelabra Flower".  This rare relative of Crinum and Hippeastrum comes from South Africa, where it blooms in late summer before the leaves sprout.  This large bulb sends up a huge flower cluster up to 24 inches across resembling a red chandelier!  This is a choice plant that isn't seen for sale very often.

Brunsvigia orientalis - Candelabra Flower

Brunsvigia orientalis forms a large bulb that can grow over 8 inches across.  It usually makes 4 to 6 large, tongue-shaped leaves that lie flat along the ground.  The leaves grow throughout winter, and the bulb goes dormant for the summer.  In late summer or early autumn, its dramatic flower stalk sprouts from the bare ground.  The cluster has from 20 to 80 scarlet blooms that face upward, which serve as a landing pad for birds.  After flowering, the round cluster dries up, breaks off from the stalk, and rolls around in the wind like a tumbleweed, which spreads the seeds around.  The plant can reach blooming size at 6 to 8 years old.  You might be able to cross-breed it with Amaryllis belladonna and related bulbs.

Brunsvigia orientalis - Candelabra Flower

Photo by Abu Shawka

The plant comes from the Western Cape province of South Africa, where temperatures are mild during the winter growing season.  It therefore grows best between 40 degrees F and the low-80s (5-28 degrees C) from November to April in the Northern Hemisphere.  The leaves can probably survive a light frost, but i recommend protecting the plant from freezing temperatures.  It grows well in a tall pot in a sandy soil mix.  A typical mix is 3 parts sand to 1 part compost.  While it's drought tolerant, it appreciates adequate watering throughout winter & spring.  Keep it dry during the summer dormancy.  A sunny exposure is best.  In the right conditions, it is a very long-lived bulb.

Brunsvigia orientalis - Candelabra Flower

An old botanical print

 

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Turquoise Puya

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