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 on end and are pretty easy to look after. Keep on dead-heading (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. But 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 infrequent watering again. By early April new leaves begin to emerge:
Now is the time to increase your stock. Propagation by division is straight-forward: knock out each plant and divide 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‘ – a pink-tinged white with golden centre. (Pedant’s Corner: strictly speaking this is a x Rhodoxis)
‘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 here’s one of my newer acquisitions – ‘Pintado.’ Similar but a little shorter than ‘Candy Stripe.’
So, yes, as I said, I’m 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, with 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?