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.