I have a silly number of rhodohypoxis but, in my defence, I was smitten when I first saw them. I was working at an alpine nursery and watched entranced as hundreds and hundreds of 6cm pots burst into flower; crammed full of red, pink and white flowers.
They flower for weeks and weeks, even months on end, and they are pretty easy to look after. Keep on deadheading (the spent flowers come away easily) and water regularly throughout spring and summer. Planted in well draining beds or in terracotta pots they make a great, long-lasting show, quickly increase in number and seem to pique people’s interest. Surprisingly (at least in my experience) they are not widely known.
In autumn, I put all my pots under the greenhouse staging and stop watering completely. After a few weeks the dried, dead growth pulls away freely and they can then be left undisturbed until March, when I start watering again – but not too much and infrequently. By early April new leaves begin to emerge:
Now is the time to increase your stock. Propagation by division is easy; just knock out each plant and divide it into two or three; the corm-like tubers separate easily …
… and re-pot using ericaceous compost – if you use it. I don’t and they seem to thrive in anything other than alkaline soil.
Top dress with gravel, put them outside, protect against mice – or, like me, don’t protect against mice …
… throw a tantrum, pop a patience pill and wait for them to flower. It won’t be long.
I put these in the cold frame just to keep the rodents off ; they haven’t all started flowering yet but many are under way.
I have about ten varieties; this is ‘Tetra Red,’
here is ‘Candy Stripe,’
and my favourite, ‘Hebron Farm Red Eye’ (Pedant’s Corner: strictly speaking this is a x Rhodoxis) a slightly pink-tinged white with a golden centre.
‘Picta’ is a another white …
… which looks lovely en masse, with its pink blush. Can you tell it’s still raining in Sussex?
R. ‘Fred Broome’ may fade a little if left all day in full sun …
… and this is one of my newer acquisitions – ‘Pintado.’ Similar but a little shorter than ‘Candy Stripe.’
So, yes, like I said, I am pretty smitten by this beautiful little plant, originally from the Drakensburg mountains in South Africa. And why do I have so many? Because I keep on propagating them! I give them away as gifts – which are always well received – and I used to sell them on a little stall outside my house, alongside other choice little alpines. But now I plan to plant them out into a raised, sharply draining bed at the Priory – and make up some more pots. And if the pesky, pernicious, pilfering, pestiferous
podents rodents don’t get them, they should look mighty fine.
So, rhodohypoxis. Have I convinced you? Are you smitten too?