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Tropical bulbs

Jan Hintze

Jan Hintze

November 11, 2011

It is also the time that a lot of our tropical bulbs emerge from their dormant period. Quite a few of them are native to areas which have the same wet/dry rain cycle we have here, so they retire underground in the dry, and emerge to flower as soon as the weather warms and the rains start.

Tropical bulb, Curcuma rubescens

Curcuma rubescens is one of the first to flower. It is native to India but, of course, because of its beauty, it has spread throughout the tropical region. All of the Curcuma family is suitable to grow, even in the cooler parts of Australia, since it goes completely dormant in the wintertime, and thus is not affected by frost. I do recommend that it be grown in a pot or other container, since it is very easy to forget just where it was planted, and mistakenly plant something else on top. If you do decide to put any of the curcumas in the garden, remember to mulch the area when they die down, and place a prominent label as a reminder.

Eucharist or Amazon lily, Eucharis grandiflora

Another bulb, which is one of my favourites and does not go dormant, but flowers on and off throughout the year is the Eucharist or Amazon lily, Eucharis grandiflora. It has a cluster beautiful scented white flowers, on a 70 cm. long stem, with very dark green leaves. We grow it as a commercial flower for the local market, where its habit of flowering all the plants in the same week mean that sometimes we have a hundred stems for a week or two, then nothing until the next burst. Ah well, everyone likes them anyway, and I like them too – and it is good for us not to have everything at our fingertips, regardless of the season.

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