Conanthera is a genus of 3-4 species of small Chilean bulbous plants with small panicles of blue, purple or white and purple flowers in the Tecophilaeaceae family. They are not frost hardy, although Lee Poulsen reports that they can survive unprotected down to -4 °C (24 °F). They should be planted in sandy soil in a warm sunny border and protected during winter from excessive rains and frost, or grown in a frame in colder climates. They prefer light (sandy) and medium (loamy) well-drained soil. They should be kept well watered during their period of growth (fall through early to mid summer) and then be allowed to dry off during their dormancy. Propagation is by offsets or seeds.

Seeds should be sown in the fall. Stratify the seeds for 2 weeks and sow in a well drained mix of at least 1:1 organic:inorganic material. They should emerge in about 2 weeks.

Conanthera bifolia has corms with an elaborate tunic, netted and frayed. The leafless stem produces many small flowers in late spring. The perianth segments are reflexed and do not form a tube except at the base; flowers are a deep purplish blue with a cone of yellow anthers protruding from the center, a good contrast to the blue perianth. Photos from Bill Dijk

Conanthera bifolia, Bill DijkConanthera bifolia, Bill Dijk

Conanthera campanulata has small purple flowers that do not reflex arranged in a branched panicle. Flowering time for my plants was late June-July. This species did not seem to appreciate my very wet Northern California winters and sometimes the flowers got diseased. Photos by Bob Rutemoeller, Mary Sue Ittner, and Osmani Baullosa.

Conanthera campanulata, Bob RutemoellerConanthera campanulata, Mary Sue IttnerConanthera campanulata, Osmani Baullosa

Conanthera trimaculata is a species from central Chile that grows to 40 cm. Although it can be found in several habitats, it is mostly coastal and found in deep sand. As the species name implies, there are three spots on the inner tepals. Photos 1 and 2 by Lyn Edwards. Photos 3 and 4 by Pamela Harlow of plants grown from BX 412, tolerating a windowsill pot.

Conanthera trimaculata, Lyn EdwardsConanthera trimaculata, Lyn EdwardsConanthera trimaculata, Pamela HarlowConanthera trimaculata, Pamela Harlow

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