"Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity. " ~Lindley Karstens

Friday, March 26, 2010

Little Sweet Treasure -- Bulbine Frutescens



I first came to know (and see) Bulbine Frutescens was when my friend at work brought me more than a dozen of small clumps of this plant for my new garden last year.  To be honest, I was not impressed at that time since all I saw was green smashed (due to the transportation) narrow fleshy leaves.  No showy flowers, and no pretty foliages...  

Only after a couple of months later, I started to appreciate this plant. 

I planted them in various locations of the garden to fill the blanks of my new flower beds.  The leaves perked up quickly, and then those up to 20" tall flower spikes rise above the foliage one after another.  The flower is orange with yellow stamens.  Since then,  I have been dividing them and spreading them in my garden to make some nice combination with the environment and the plants surround.

(Flower spike starts forming...)
They seem don't care Florida's hot and humid weather at all, and the January Freeze we experienced in Florida did not do any harm to them either! Heat tolerlant, drought tolerlant, cold hardy, and pretty flowers... got to love that! If that's not enough, bulbine also contains the same glycoprotiens that ease burns, rashes and itches like Aloe (I think that is why it is also called as Jelly Burn Plant ).   Bulbine frutescens is native to desert grasslands in South Africa. The sap in the leaves has been used for healing in South Africa since old times.

Obviousely bees love them too!


Among the various locations I tried, they love the full sun and partial sun places the best.  If planted in shady place, they will just keep their green leaves, but won't be able to bloom prolifically.  
 
  I planted several clumps in front yard rock garden...

 

and front door entry way...

and the new flower bed with agaves... 

and between the rose bushes...
 
(love the combination of bulbine and the diamond frost!)
and under the palm tree...

Some might argue that I overused this plant, well, this gardener has the tendency to overuse the plant she loves!

I recommend dividing the clumps when they become crowded, or if you just simply want more of this plant, just like what I did when I needed more for my new flower bed.  I divided one single big clump into eight small ones!  Very quickly, each small clump will form an open rosette of leaves again.  And, they are very easy to divide since they have very shallow roots.

So, if you are looking for a heat/drought tolerant, cold-hardy, low maintainance, AND pretty ground cover, Bulbine Frutescens could be your answer!

By no mistake, Bulbine Frutescens has converted themselves from ugly ducklings to the little sweet treasure plant for me!

Have a relaxing weekend in or out of the garden!

18 comments:

  1. Good morning Ami ~ What a wonderful little plant the bulbine is. I tried to grow it from seed with no luck. It sure looks like it's doing great in your gardens. Having plants that stand up to our heat and humidity is great.

    Thanks for visiting my blogs and your kind comment. I look forward to visiting your blog more to see what you have growing in your gardens. You are south of me.

    Happy Gardening ~ FlowerLady

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  2. Flowerlady, good morning! Glad to see you here.

    I did not know Bulbine has seeds, hmm, need to see if they will self sow in my garden. Ususally sucullent type of plants are difficult to start from seeds.

    Welcome to come here more often. Have a good day. --Ami

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  3. I,too,love bulbine!You're right.It is so easy to grow,and even the freezes up our way didn't bother them at all.
    Your garden is looking great!
    ChrisC

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  4. Glad to read about your bulbine. Especially glad to hear that your first ones didn't look so wonderful but later improved. I bought just two plants in late Jan. and they have just been sitting in the ground doing nothing. I was thinking that I should have waited to buy some healthier plants. I sure hope mine get going soon. They look lovely in your garden. I love how you have tucked them in so many spots.

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  5. ChrisC: Yes, it is not easy to find a plant that can stand up everything in Florida. Got to love it!

    NanaK: Did you plant your bulbines in a sunny place? It loves the sun. At the beginning it won't look too good. When you almost forget its existence, it starts showing up with their flowers! :) Good luck!

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  6. Wow Ami, I'll have be on the lookout for these. Interesting about them having similar burn properties as aloe. Have you tried it?

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  7. Any plant that can stand up to the summer sun here in South Florida has to be tough. They look good kind of like Aloe. Im going to add them to my prospect list.

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  8. Very interesting all the uses you found for it.

    It doesn't look as if my tangerine bulbine is coming back. The yellow failed a year or so back. I think I'm just a bit north for it to survive a prolonged cold spell.

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  9. I am a big fan of bulbine, too. I think I might have lost some of mine...but I am going to wait and see if it returns.
    I use a lot of the same plants that I love...spread the love! We share a lot of the same plants.

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  10. I love your bulbine post! I really like this plant too, but my dog poo'd and killed my plant in fall. I saw a much larger species of bulbine with yellow flowers and more aloe-like leaves for sale... I'm practicing restraint. Also, I don't know if its just my computer but your beautiful new background seems to make the page load slowly. Hopefully its just me!

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  11. WG: No, I haven't had need to try it for cure yet :) But I did exam the sap by breaking the leaves, and they truly like Aloe, not as much sap as Aloe though.

    Sanddune: This plant definetly worth adding into your prospect list! You will love it!

    NellJean: I guess "cold-hardy" is a relative term. For florida, it is cold-hardy, but from where you live, seems it did not pass the exam :( Well, you can grow daffodils! I have been drooling over your posts about those daffodils for a while now!

    Amy: Texas has similar climate as florida, maybe a little colder in the winter. Glad that we share the same love for the bulbine! Hope your bulbines can all come back for you!

    RFG: Sorry about your bulbine, maybe your dog is attracted to those pretty flowers, lol! I read about the yellow type bulbine, just did not know it is much bigger. I did not see it here, maybe you can just try one? I am not very good at restraint when coming to plants :)

    hmm, I did not notice the page load speed slow down after changing the background, at least it is not that obvious for me. I hope the new template I am using is not loading too much information and javascript. I got to check that. Thanks for letting me know.

    Thank you for noticing the background though! I was playing it until 1:00 AM. Just can not resist the pretty thing...

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  12. Yes we use the sap, on sunburn, small cuts and grazes. It is also supposed to help with sun damaged patches on your skin.

    When you are dividing plants, remember, if it is not the hottest time of year, you can just cut/break off pieces. Plant the stem, so just the rosette of leaves is above ground. And one day you sit with a heap of volunteers, looking for someone with a new garden?

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  13. I'll have to look into the Bulbine Frutescens, as anything that can survive long hot Gulf Coast summers is welcome over here.

    I could be guilty of over-using plants as well, but hey--if it can survive our crazy climate, it's welcome here.

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  14. Ami,
    You have given this great performer the spotlight it deserves. And that first photo is stunning! I came upon my first bulbine much the same way. It was a neglected clump in a 3 gal pot at the garden center on clearance. I brought it home in the hottest part of summer and divided it before planting. From there I have divided away as it grows. I don't have too many sunny spots but where there's sun you'll find some bulbine.

    You are smart to use it like you have. It works and it adds so much vitality to your pretty garden.

    I love, love your new look here with the refreshing green background. It just seems to go with your personality. And just so you know I didn't seem to have a problem with it loading.

    Great post, Ami. Always a pleasure to hear how your S. Fl garden is growing.
    Meems

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  15. Elephant's eyes: Glad that you added your personal experience about this plant. I will remember that next time I got sun burn.

    Thanks for the tip to divide the plants! I got to try it. That will give me more plants for sure. Yes, I am already offering my friend this plant for her rock garden :)

    Deborah: When you are looking for this plant, just remember there is another type of bulbine with yellow flowers (not orange). They should perform the same, although I did not try that.

    Meems: That was exactly what I thought when I wrote "New look for my garden corner". It deserves a spotlight of its own. That is why I wrote this post just for it!

    Next time you post some garden pictures, if the bulbine is nearby, would you include them into the picture? So that I can see your combination of this plant, which may give me more idea how to use this plant. Thanks for your kind words!

    I love my new background too! I got the new template friday after 10:30PM, and then started playing with it until 1:00 AM. I think it does turn out very beautifully. In case you are interested, I am using the blogger in draft new template designer at http://draft.blogger.com/. You may want to check out. There are lots more there...

    Thanks for letting me know that it is loading fine for you. I was kind of concerned after seeing RFG's comment.

    Ami

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  16. They grow well here in the desert too! I love how you used them in your garden. I did not know about their healing properties - I learned something today :-)

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  17. Noelle: I would think bulbine would grow well in desert too! It is just a tought plant to survive its environment. Glad that I can have something new for you. :)

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  18. Hi, I was searching around the net for a picture of Bulbine when I found your blog. I am signing up to follow your blog, because even though I live in zone 8, I am interested in tropicals. Last winter I verified for myself that Bulbine will not survive outdoors here in east central Alabama. You can find my blog by googling Gold Hill Plant Farm, Also my web store at Doleaf. I would like your permission to use your picture of bulbine that appears first on this entry. I do not have any pictures of bulbine and this one is the best I have seen. Thank you.

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