- Author: Karen Metz
At this point in my gardening journey, I have learned to pay attention to what other gardeners are successfully growing in their yards. When several gardeners that I know grow the same plant and are very pleased with it, my interest is definitely piqued. Even better if the gardeners are geographically scattered throughout the county, as this generally means the plant can tolerate some variable conditions.
That's just what happened with Bulbine, Bulbine frutescens. Initially, I was a little underwhelmed, as my plant was very small. But the second year it got larger and started blooming and blooming. We've had a fairly mild winter, so it's just kept right on blooming. Usually, the plant will bloom from spring through fall in our area.
Bulbine is originally from South Africa and is very drought tolerant. Sunset Western Garden Book shows it can be grown in Zones 8,9,12-24. It will attain a height of 1 foot and can ultimately expand to a clump about 2-3 feet wide.
I love the various descriptions of the plant, which I found in several resources. Sunset calls the leaves “slender, pointed pencils”. The ASU educational site describes the plant as an “urban sea anemone”. All the sites agree that the flowers of the main species are bright yellow and are produced in arcing spike-like clusters. There are some varieties that have orange flowers.
Bulbine can handle sun and heat, but can also tolerate partial shade. They don't need much water. They don't need fertilizer. They do need well-draining soil although they are tolerant of varying soil compositions. Most websites agree they can tolerate temperatures down to 20–25-degrees Fahrenheit.
Bulbine does not seem to be susceptible to any plant diseases or insect predators! The National Gardening Association's website even lists it as being deer resistant. And it also lists it as being an attractant of bees and butterflies.
Since the plant grows in clumps, it can be divided up and shared. It can also be propagated by stem cuttings and the yellow species by seed. The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Science calls it a” great pass-along plant”. The University of California at Davis has named it one of its Arboretum All-Stars. This plant is definitely a winner.