Introduction to Veltheimia Veltheimia is another of the South African members of the Liliaceae family. There are only two species in the genus - Veltheimia capensis and Veltheimia bracteata. Veltheimia must be considered tender. They thrive outdoors in mild climates where they enjoy bright light, but not direct sun. In other climates, they like pot culture in greenhouses and window gardens. The flowers are tubular and in a tight cluster on 12 to 18 inch stems. The leaves are shiny, dark green with wavy margins. To quote Charles Hardman, "Did they never bloom, they would be worth growing for the foliage alone." Veltheimia were very popular house/parlor bulbs in the early 20th century. While they became less popular for a time, we have seen a revival in interest recently. Some growers, notably Bill Dijk and some others, have developed some beautiful bicolor crosses in the last few years. From totally unrelated stock, a bicolor appeared in my collection. However, the pink and the yellow are reversed. The flowers are yellow at the stem and become pink part way up the flower. Veltheimia capensis is less common than V. bracteata, and there are only two color forms of which I am aware - the "normal" light pink, and a white. Veltheimia capensis blooms early (Nov. - Dec.), has a shorter bloom life, a longer dormant period, and requires dryer growing conditions than Veltheimia bracteata. The wavy margined leaves are upright and gray-green in color. Veltheimia deasii maybe a variation of V. capensis. Some think that it is different. In form, it has more narrow leaves that are even more wavy than are those of V. capensis. The flowers are smaller and the flower stem is thinner. V. deasii is found in very few collections. Veltheimia bracteata sports several color forms. The "normal" is pink shaded with green at the edges (this one has the "common" name of "red hot poker.") Among these, there seems to be a range of shades of pink. They run from a pale to a rather deep pink There is a lemon yellow (Veltheimia bracteata 'lemon flame') and a cream/white form which is beautiful. The 'lemon flame' which I have seen are all very sturdy, glossy green leafed plants. The scape is large and long lasting. Several years ago, the Hoog brothers crossed the 'normal' pink with the lemon flame (yellow) and developed a beautiful light rose and yellow, tipped with green (Veltheimia bracteata rosalba). This cross appeared about the time of the decline in interest. As a result, this beautiful bulb disappeared in all but a few private collections. When planting any color form of Veltheimia bracteata, use a well draining soil mix. Set the bulb up to the neck. Hold watering until the growth appears. Do not overwater even when the bulb is in growth. Overwatering can cause the bulb to rot. V. bracteata usually enjoy a dormancy of about two months in late fall/early winter. When planting, I use a 0/10/10 fertilizer during the growth period. My experience with Veltheimisa has been that bulbs planted in the ground are better able to survive Southern California wet winters. Bulbs planted in pots, either clay or plastic, tend to rot if given too much water (the root system tends to form a mass which blocks drainage. When planted inpots, be careful of over watering and repot bulbs to prevent root binding.