The difference between what makes something famous and what keeps it forever blanketed in anonymity is often in how it’s marketed and distributed. Take for example stalked bulbine (Bulbine frutescens). This South African plant was relatively unknown to American gardens – until one company saw its value and started promoting it.
Made popular by the Proven Winners® brand, bulbine is a tender perennial that works well in sunny spots and containers.
Photo Credit: Felder Rushing
‘Hallmark’ bulbine has peachy-orange petals.
Photo Credit: Gerald Klingaman
Plant bulbine in well-drained soil. While it’s drought-tolerant and prefers dry locations, the plant flowers better when given an occasional watering during very dry or hot summers.
Photo Credit: Grandiflora
While bulbine has been around for years, it labored in relative obscurity in mild parts of the country. A pretty, spreading, tender perennial, the plant has a slightly woody base and fleshy, onion-like evergreen leaves that grow about a foot long. Yellow to orange, 16-inch-long flower spikes appear from late spring until fall. Individual star-shaped flowers measure a half-inch across with six reflexed petals and a prominent fuzz-ball of filaments in the center of each blossom.
During the new-plant craze of the past two decades, this beauty was plucked from its obscurity to be named a Proven Selection® plant – a division of Proven Winners®. This means that bulbine has been named by leading US plant propagators to be a colorful, easy-to-grow, adaptable plant that’s appropriate for growing in containers. As a result, this once-forgotten beauty has now joined the ranks of more than 400 Proven Selections marketed for home garden use.
Although bulbine is considered to be a perennial, it’s only hardy to to USDA Hardiness zones 9-11, so it’s used as an annual in other regions. The plant can be grown easily in a container garden or in the ground in a sunny site. The beauty of using it in a planter is that you can always overwinter your plant indoors, placing it near a bright window or in an area where the plant won’t freeze.
This desert-like beauty has considerable tolerance for heat and drought, and it grows in any average, well-drained soil. Plants respond to moderate fertilization during the growing season. Deadheading flowers also encourages continual bloom. Propagation is easy by division in any season. Bulbine has no serious insect or disease problems.
So if you’re looking for a popular plant to add a hint of the desert to your yard – no matter where you live – consider giving bulbine a whirl. This pretty little bloomer is well-worth its weight in marketing.