Originally from South Africa, Boophone are an interesting group of plants with wonderful foliage, and flowers as well.
With only two recognized species in the genus it is the combination of leaf color and leaf pattern that makes these plants so sought after.
These are a deciduous plant and the flowers appear first, followed by the wonderful foliage.
However these plants do have a number of other attractions that make them a must for dry climate gardeners, those that like ‘unusual’ indoor plants and of course collectors.
Boophane disticha and Boophane haemanthoides (pictured right) are spring flowering bulbs with fan shaped foliage. Flower color varies within each species from pink to deep red.
It is the over look of the mature plant that attracts the attention. With a distinctive woody caudex forming over time the foliage grows from the top, creating a somewhat prehistoric looking plant.
Most parts of the plant, especially the flowers are an irritant. A few common names include Ox Bane and Sore Eye plant, Boophone are poisonous and if eaten by cattle and other animals the plants can cause death.
Both Boophane Disticha and Boophane Haemanthoides require a well drained soil and a sunny position to grow successfully. Bulbs need to be get dry during dormancy to prevent rot.
Some variation in growth habit will occur within the species depending on the origin of the bulb.
How to Grow Boophone Plants
- When planting use a large deep container as these are a plant that do not like being moved and need the deep growing medium for the fleshy root system that allows them to cope in dry conditions..
- A free draining soil mix is essential.
- Bulbs are planted with around 1/2 – 2/3 of the bulb above the ground
- Bulbs should be watered as soon as the flower appears and then given a deep watering every 4 weeks.
- As the foliage dies back watering should cease until the next season.
- Most commonly grown as container plants and overwintered indoors.
- Try planting bulbs in a terracotta pot using a succulent potting soil.
- Cover the surface with fine white gravel to help make the plant look great.
- In hotter climate zones give the plant some afternoon shade.
- This is a summer dormant bulb.
- Avoid frosts.
- Boophane haemanthoides forms a fan of waxy blue gray leaves, the flower appears on a tall stem, pink to red flowers, however it is the fascinating foliage that is the main feature.
- Boophane disticha has deeper red flowers, a similar growth habit.
- Boophone disticha var. ernestii-ruschii is very rare in cultivation.
- Two other species formerly associated with this genus B. guttata and B. flava have been recently moved to their own ‘NEW’ genus, Crossyne.
Usually from seed which can be surface sown in mid spring. Ensure that the seeds get cold night time temperatures during the germination period.
Plants will take around 6 years to flower from seed. Viable seed will need be found, and hand pollination is often used to ensure seed set.
- South African Bulb
- Striking fan shaped foliage
- Large pink to red flowers
- Full sun to part shade
- Protect from frosts and cold
- Well drained soil
- Hardy to USDA Zone 9
Boophone distica is known to poisonous to cattle and other animals. Sometimes called the ‘sore eye flower’, the pollen from the flowers can cause eye irritation