Bulbine is a genus of succulent plants named for the bulb-shaped tuber of many species. It contains about 76 species native to southern Africa and Australia. The genus is in the family Asphodelaceae which makes it a botanical cousin to the better known genus Aloe. Bulbines grow as a clump of narrow, succulent leaves and some species produce a caudex or a tuber.
These plants produce 10 to 12 flower stalks, each with clusters of small, fragrant, yellow (or sometimes pink or orange) flowers. The stalks elongate continually throughout the growing season and produce new flowers at the tip.
One tropical species, Bulbine natalensis, is being studied for its ability to boost testosterone production in animals. A sap of the succulent leaves of the more commonly grown species, Bulbine frutescens, is used medicinally in the same way as gel of Aloe vera.
Growing Conditions and General Care
Caring for Bulbine doesn’t require much effort and neglect doesn’t prevent the delicate blooms from rising 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45 cm) above the foliage.
These plants are adaptable to many soil types. Growing Bulbines is a good choice for gardens in arid areas, as they are drought tolerant. In fact, these plants are often found in rock gardens with poor soil just for this reason. Bulbine plants are hardy in USDA plant hardiness zones 9 to 11, but can grow in lower zones as annuals.
Locate Bulbines in a sunny to lightly shaded area of the garden. Plant the rhizomes in well draining soil and water weekly at least until plants are established. Once established, the plant is drought tolerant, though it benefits from supplemental water during times of drought. Feed your plants with a balanced liquid fertilizer once per month during the growing season.
Deadheading will encourage the plants to produce more flowers, but it is not necessary.
Propagation is from seed, cuttings or either division of clumps and should be done in spring.
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