April 5, 2006

Unusual Velthiemia bracteata

Yellow Velthiemia in bloom
Velthiemia bracteata, in a yellow form

Since it is snowing today, at least 6 inches, it's back to the greenhouse for some late South African winter blooming bulbs. Velthiemia bracteata, a large, easy to grow, even in a home, produces a large rosette of shiny wavy-edged leaves very much almost hosta-like, all winter long. In late winter and early spring, a flowerbud emerges from the center, and a stalk similar to a Kniphophia, or Red Hot Poker, rises topped off with a panicle of flowers. Commonly found in a pink form, there are a few named varieties available but they are very hard to find.

Velthiemia bracteata 'rose alba' in bloom
Velthiemia bracteata 'Rose-Alba'

An all yellow form, Velthiemia bracteata "Yellow Flame' has been available since the early twentieth century, but I have only seen it available once. Not truly yellow, at least in the weak winter sun that we get in the north easter U.S., it is lovely, and my favorite.

The plant, like other South Africans, likes to spend the summer dormant, and dry, and beins growth in Septemeber, when the temperatures begin to become cooler, and you start watering again.

Velthiemia bracteata rose alba
Some varieties of Velthiemia are very collectable, such as this pale form sold as Velthiemia 'Rose-Alba'

A more unusual form of V. bracteata, is V. bracteata 'Rose-Alba', shown here with yellowish cream blossoms that fade to a pink near the base.

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