TOW: Veltheimia

Cameron McMaster
Tue, 27 Jan 2004 00:30:54 PST
Thanks Doug for the interesting intro to Veltheimia.  They are very rewarding plants - in my experience they need little attention, especially if grown in the garden as you mentioned, they can be left to themselves.
V. bracteata (used to be V. viridiflora) grows naturally along the SE Cape coastal areas, with a population as far as 40 km upstream on the cliff banks of the Kei River where the climate is definitely summer rainfall!  However, V. bracteata persists in having a late winter flowering period despite the dry winter in this region.  But contrary to what you experience, in the Eastern Cape they have a short dormancy in midsummer (January) even though this is the rainy season, and then remain evergreen for the rest of the year.  
V. capensis (used to be V. glauca) grows naturally in a definite winter rainfall region in the Western Cape, so it has a long summer dormancy.  It is usually in full sun and needs a more sandy or gravelly mix than V. bracteata. 
When growing these species in plastic pots, the drainage holes should be increased or enlarged.  We plant mature bulbs about one-third above ground which also helps to prevent rot.  If rotting does occur and there is still a firm piece of bulb scales left, clean away all the soggy stuff with an old toothbrush, treat with fungicide, let the rescued piece dry off, then 'layer' it in dryish sand and in a few weeks new bulbils should form.

Rhoda McMaster
from a hot and dry Napier, W. Cape

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