Douglas Westfall
Mon, 26 Jan 2004 07:38:38 PST
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 
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 
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. 

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