Dieramas are native mainly to the eastern part of southern Africa, which has about 37 species, but are also represented in east Africa as far north as Ethiopia. They are members of the iris family, Iridaceae, and are noted for their graceful, arching sprays of pink, mauve, reddish, white or, rarely, yellow bells, their evergreen habit and tolerance of frost. Several dieramas and their selections are quite widely grown in gardens of the northern hemisphere, yet only about five species are in general cultivation in South Africa – three that have become fairly widely available in recent years are the shellpink D. nixonianum which grows to 1.2 m, the bright pink D. latifolium which grows to 1.1-2.7 m and a probable hybrid, resembling the bluish-mauve D. trichorhizum, which grows to 60 cm. Dieramas are sun-loving plants and must have full sun throughout the year in order to flower well. They are suited to north-facing rock garden pockets, planted beside garden ponds, incorporated into herbaceous borders or grown as specimen plants in deep containers. Flowering amongst the various species takes place mainly from September to March and they like slightly acid, well-composted soils. They should be left undisturbed for at least five years as best flowering results are obtained from well established clumps. The flowers attract butterflies, honey bees and carpenter bees and, even when not in flower, their dense, spiky leaf tufts remain attractive. Although the plants undergo a semi-dormant phase in winter they retain their leaves and do not take kindly to having them cut down as this sets them back considerably – only the dead, outer leaves should be removed. Dieramas need regular, heavy drenching in summer but are fairly drought-tolerant in winter and can take temperatures down to -50 C. September to October is an ideal time of year to plant out dieramas from nursery bags, but care must be taken not to disturb the roots. A heavy drench is needed directly after planting. Propagation is easy from seeds sown in spring, or from the separation of corms from overcrowded clumps in early spring. The corms are persistent and form long ‘stacks’ with age. The senescent, inactive corms that accumulate directly below the youngest (uppermost) corm can often be persuaded to grow by detaching them and planting them in the normal way. Dierama corms are relished by mole rats but this can be overcome by lining the planting hole with wire mesh and placing large stones in a tight ring around the base of each clump.