Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Schizostylis

No two gardens are the same.
No two days are the same in one garden.
~Hugh Johnson

The Schizostylis coccinea aka Kaffir Lily or River Lily is blooming in my garden now. It has been renamed Hesperantha coccinea but I think I just like saying Schizostylis better. All names are apparently used depending on the grower, so if you look for it take all four names with you to the nursery. Confusing I know but often plants do get reclassified so patience is helpful. It is native to South Africa and has lovely delicate flowers that come in various shades of reds, pinks or a white. The flowers close up at night and open wide for the daylight. It spreads by rhizomes, fairly shallow so it is easy to dig, divide or thin. I read that thinning is suggested every 3 years for the plant to flourish.
It loves full sun, reaches for it in partial shade and craves moisture. I’ve seen it growing at the side of a pond at the Highline Botanical Gardens. I have one that gets ample water but slightly shaded and one (a division of the same plant) in a dryer but sunnier place. The former grows bigger and blooms earlier than the latter. Maybe that difficult sunny spot by the downspout? It has a fairly long bloom time as multiple buds open in progression up the stem. The leaves are long, slender, sword shaped that form basal clumps. Divide them in the spring.

I found mine at a local farmer’s market. The variety I have is named ‘Watermelon’ and the color is just like the inside of a watermelon (the photo of mine above makes it look more red than in person). I see Kaffir Lily now and then in the larger independent nursery. Best to buy them when in bloom so you can get the color you like best, so now is a good time to check your nurseries. Hardy in zones 5-9 (USDA).

Oh by the way, did I mention the hummingbirds love it? Indeed they do.

In bloom in my garden today: schizostylis, daphne, roses, star jasmine, alpine strawberry, artichoke, borage, phygelius, fushia, greenbeans, tomato, cucumber, tigridia, canna, coreopsis, Echinacea, salvia, catmint, solanum, gauara, liatris, oregano, loosestrife, lavender, Russian sage, hardy geranium, verbascum.

Photo by Pat Chissus

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love the title of this post! Too funny! I'll have to pass this flower name on to my mom - she loves hummingbirds!

Shari B.