Plant Collector: Lachenalia aloides quadricolor

The first lachenalia of the season: L. aloides quadricolor

The first lachenalia of the season: L. aloides quadricolor

The first of our lachenalias has come into bloom. ‘Quadricolor’ refers to the four colours in the blooms of this particular variety – lime green tubes with maroon tips are attached to the stem by a cap of orange and yellow. The commonest lachenalia that is seen in New Zealand is the somewhat garish, strong growing scarlet and orange which looks to me as if it should be sold amongst the plastic flowers in the red sheds. It is not in bloom yet. It used to be sold as ‘Pearsonii’ but that is an incorrect name, peculiar to this country. It is just a different form of L. aloides which is a variable species. We also grow L. aloides tricolor which is much later flowering and lime green with pale yellow and orange and the very different L. aloides var vanzyliae which is a striking pale blue and white with green tips.

Lachenalias are native to South Africa, predominantly the Cape Province. Most are winter flowering and summer dormant. We have different varieties flowering from now until early November in the garden. Many are easy enough to grow in sunny positions with good drainage, as long as you don’t get very heavy frosts. The foliage is not overpowering and doesn’t hang on too long after flowering finishes which makes for a tidier garden bulb. The highly desirable blue species come later in the season and not all are as easy to grow as L. aloides.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.