Thalia dealbata Powdery Alligator flag

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If you are looking for something different to add height and drama to a water feature, garden pond or even a container filled with water why not come to our plant sale at Open Gardens Constantia in November where we will have some of these plants on sale. They give a wonderful tropical look to the garden.

These aquatic, rhizomatous perennials are so easy to grow just needing to be planted in a wet, boggy position. They hold their large canna-like leaves at right angles to the stems during the day – but move then to an upright position in the evening. Bunches of violet blue flowers bow down the tall, 2m high flower stalks in summer. Need full sun. Their giant leaves turn gold in autumn and then die back for a short period over winter.  Height 1. 5 -2 + m.




1 Scadoxus puniceus Aug'10 0012 Scadoxus puniceus Aug'10 0053 Scadoxus puniceus Aug'10 0084 Scadoxus puniceus August 2010 0095 Scadoxus punicea Aug'08 020


Scadoxus puniceus, explains grower and author Lyn  MacCullum,  is a large indigenous bulb that occurs naturally in shady coastal bush, forests and ravines, in the Free State, KwaZulu Natal, the Eastern Cape, as well as further north. The name Scadoxus is derived from “doxus” meaning glory or splendour, and puniceus means crimson, scarlet or purple.

Scadoxus puniceus, a popular garden plant, does well in pots or the open ground. Both locations need to be well drained with plenty of compost. The bulbs, which are dormant in winter, need to be kept sheltered from too much winter rain and those in pots are best moved to a dry patio spot, giving the bulbs a little water every so often to prevent total dehydration.

In late July to early September, depending on the weather, the bulbs send up large purple spikes which open up into spectacular flowerheads. Once the buds have opened, large, bright green leaves also appear. If the bees have done their job and pollinated the flowers, bright red berries form, making this bulb doubly interesting as a garden plant!

Watch out for the Amaryllis Lily Borer which can destroy the bulbs if not spotted in time. Not wanting to use poisons, when one of my bulbs was attacked, I dug it up, removed the caterpillar, gently scraped and pared away the bits that were damaged, rinsed the bulb in a very weak solution of Jeyes Fluid and replanted it. It then went on to flower as usual. Snails can also be a problem on the leaves – hand pick them in the evenings.

There will be a few of these bulbs (in pots) for sale at our plant sale, so come early as I am sure they will be snapped up very quickly.



Bridget, a member of the Bishops court garden club has, after undertaking extensive renovations and additions to their house, only recently landscaped the large garden on her and her husband’s Constantia property.   She has been inspired by her grandparents, who were avid gardeners, and then her parents who encouraged her, at quite a young age, to grow vegetables by allocating her a section of the vegetable garden. She has carried on this tradition in her large formal fruit and vegetable garden through which is criss crossed by rills, emanating from the house. Nearer the homestead are more traditional plantings of shrubs, roses and grasses while running along the drive is a neat vineyard with rows of lavender interspersed between the vines.