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Haemanthus deformis

Dwarf Haemanthus


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The evergreen H. deformis is endemic to forests and shaded stream banks in the Transkei (Eastern Cape) and southern KwaZulu-Natal.
It is a valuable bulb for the gardener because it requires dappled shade, and will even flower well in dense shade. The specific name deformis is most likely a reference to the very short, bent flower stem, and the extraordinary manner in which the flower head appears in the centre at the base of the two evergreen leaves (and not from a lateral point as in the other evergreen species). It is a white-flowered species, grows up to 10 cm high with a short, hairy or smooth scape (single flower stem), and has two very broad, leathery leaves that lie flat on the ground. It flowers at any time from May to October. It likes a well-drained, humus-rich growing medium, such as a mix composed of one part coarse river sand to two parts well-decomposed compost or finely milled bark. The bulbs are planted with the top of the neck resting at ground level and can remain in the same position for many years, multiplying slowly by offset formation. Seeds form readily and should be harvested and sown as soon as they can be easily removed from the bright orange, fleshy berries. The plants make interesting subjects for wide-brimmed containers in shady courtyard gardens and shaded rockeries. They like drenching at well-spaced intervals in summer and prefer only occasional watering in winter, although they do survive heavy winter rainfall in mild parts of the Western Cape.
Article by Graham Duncan

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