Lachenalia and Dierama

conroe_joe(9a)November 23, 2003


Anyone out there grow any of these plants?

I'm thinking of trying a few Lachenalia as summer potted plants and then storing them in the garage over winter. I've heard Dierama likes year round water if they have good drainage and I'm thinking of planting them outside, they should take zone 8b/9a but I don't know if they'll take summer heat.


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resmith(SW BC)


I have about 50 Lachenalia species and 20 Dierama species.
The Lachenalia must be kept as winter-growers, and can only take a couple of degrees of frost. The bulbs will rot when they are warm and wet for any extended period.

The only problem you may have with Dierama would be during heat waves. If your summer temperatures regularly exceed 35C you may have some trouble growing most of the Dierama species. It seems to affect the flowering. There are a few tropical species, but they are not very hardy, and not very showy either. Winter lows won't be a problem. Mine are often both flooded and subject to winter freezes, but still manage to flower and self-seed around the garden.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2003 at 4:27PM
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Thanks RESmith, for the follow up on Lachenalia; it seems I've been typing absent-mindedly. I plan to keep Lachenalia in the garage for the 5 hot months (May-Septermber), just letting them dry down--or perhaps I'll put them in the laundry room with the dormant Nerine sarniensis (not so blisteringly hot).

But, now you have me wondering about Lachenalia hardiness. Silverhill seeds claims they are all hardy to zone 8. Perhaps they mean the bulbs can survive but the tops freeze? It seems that if the tops are frost sensitive that the blooms would be sensitive too.

Can you elaborate a bit on the cold sensitivity for Lachenalia?


    Bookmark   November 23, 2003 at 4:48PM
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resmith(SW BC)

I would dispute the statement that Lachenalias are hardy to Zone 8. I have had a lot of foliage damage with overnight frosts at -3C. The leaves are somewhat succulent and simply turn to mush. Among all the Mediterranean-climate bulbs I grow, they are one of the more tender genera. I guess there are a couple of species from the fringes of the Karoo which may be a bit tougher, but most are not.
Lachenalias are generally grown as pot plants in North America because of their small size. Gives you a chance to examine the flowers closely, too.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2003 at 3:43PM
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jderosa(z6 NJ)

Where are lachenelia bulbs available? I've seen some listed in MacClure and Zimmerman, but that's it. I'd love to try them again - I've never been very successful with flowers, but I always got lots of growth and baby bulbs to form. I just couldn't keep them cool enough to get them to flower well - but now I think I can.

Anyone have any bulbs to spare?

Joe 'still looking' DeRosa

    Bookmark   December 5, 2003 at 5:35PM
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Try Shields Bulbs (, or Paul Christian Rare Plants, or Telos Rare Bulbs (


    Bookmark   December 8, 2003 at 9:17AM
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JayEmVee(z9 SF Bay, CA)

I have had good luck with Dierama here in Berkeley. Once I had it in a raised bed, it was happy, vigorous, lots of wands with nodding blossoms. I sowed seed and later planted the starts in another location near the shut off of a hose. Plenty of accidental extra water and the blooms were great. The deer ate them though.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2004 at 9:56PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Silverhill's ratings, though not incorrect in an absolute sense, need to be taken in context. Years ago I tried a large order of Cape Bulbs (from Jim Duggan) in the Wash. DC suburbs. Lachenalias are quite tolerant to an +infrequent+ freeze of the degree that +might be+ experienced in +some+ zone 8 areas. I personally observed them trying to resprout, multiple times, after lows around 10F during our typical see-sawing winter weather. However my climate was, in the end, too cold for them and by spring they were just too tired to keep going. The warmth combined with wetness of summer finished them off. But there are probably areas of interior CA and favorable areas of the PNW where Lachenalias would be very happy in a zone 8 area. Blossoms might be lost some winters due to frosts. In 8b Texas the summer rains would definitely be a more serious concern than winter cold.
For the record, some SA winter-rain geophytes that can tolerate an average, though probably not severe, winter in the lower mid-Atlantic (and our wet summers) are Gladiolus tristis and Watsonia aletroides. The foliage of G. tristis is amazingly hardy for something so delicate looking.

Dieramas have grown fine for me but I've had infrequently blooms. Resmith may be correct that our hot summers are to blame, the odd thing is the plants are vegetatively completely healthy seeming. If they have enough water, and slight shade, no amount of heat seems to bother the foliage. They are very slow growers but have stayed evergreen or nearly so through some quite cold weather. I've also grown a high-elevation Moraea (huttonii IIRC) and they are equally hardy seeming but more willing to bloom.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2004 at 9:17PM
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Thanks for the note on resprouting from 10 F. I think they will do fine here. We used to be zone 8b. But the new climate zone map puts us solidly into zone 9. This winter we've only seen 2 nights of 25 F, and 2 or 3 of 28 F. Last winter was the same.

So, I think I'll try the Lachenalia out. They'll be pot plants here anyway because of the summer moisture. Does this group have any advice about drying them down for summer?

I wonder if I can treat them the same as I do Nerine sarniensis? When night temperatures reliably stay above 60-65 (about first week of May), I withold water and bring the pots into the laundry room till mid-October.

One thing I wonder is how to get the seedlings through their first year. I think they'll have to be kept indoors under lights for the first summer. By summer 2 they should be big enough to take a few month dry spell (I hope).

Here is a link that might be useful: Lachenalia photos

    Bookmark   January 25, 2004 at 9:32PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Most Lachenalia species foliage will freeze back at just a degree or two below freezing, so they are usually raised as container plants in a cool greenhouse anywhere they would be likely to freeze back. Just let them dry off naturally after they finish blooming, precipitation in habitat would usually start in mid fall and continue into mid spring, and as the foliage starts yellowing, you can completely withold water until mid fall. The summer heat of east coast USA shouldn't be a problem while they are dormant, but they will rot if they are also rained on with high temps in summer. In southern California they are extremely easy outdoors, they generally need some more protection from frost and mollusks here in zone 9 northern California.

Interesting to hear that Dieramas are not heat tolerant in summer, I didn't know that. Most thrive here in coastal California under regular garden conditions, and the only difficulty is knowing how best to divide them. In my experience, they always seem to be shocked by dividing them, and are very touchy about it.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2004 at 3:05PM
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