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BABIANA

Image of Babiana

Family

Iridaceae

Botanical Name

BABIANA

Plant Common Name

Baboon Flower

General Description

The genus Babiana comprises some 80 species of tender, herbaceous, summer-dormant perennials that grow from fibrous-coated corms. Most Babiana are native to winter-rainfall regions of far-southern Africa, typically occurring in rich clay soils. In gardens Babiana species and hybrids are grown for their sprays of colorful flowers that typically open in late winter or spring.

These members of the iris family produce clumps of narrow, lance-shaped leaves that are usually hairy and pleated. The leaves arise in fall or winter from globular, deeply buried corms that typically grow at a depth several times their width. The top of the fibrous corm "tunic" often forms a protruding "neck." The leaves wither away in spring. Compact, simple or branched spikes appear in late winter or spring, carrying several to many rounded or two-lipped, six-lobed, fragrant or unscented blooms that are typically blue or purple but may be red, yellow, orange, or white. The flowers of many Babiana species and hybrids have an iridescent sheen or boldly contrasting markings. The flowers are followed by small rounded to oblong seed capsules. Self-sowing may occur in favorable climates.

Babiana are charming little garden "bulbs" for regions that have dry summers and mild, relatively moist winters. They tolerate desert conditions but do poorly in hot humid climates. Plants perform best in ample sunlight and well-drained, moisture-retentive soil. In areas with cold winters, the corms can be dug in fall and replanted in spring for late spring or summer bloom. Spring bulb catalogs sometimes offer corms of Babiana for planting as summer-blooming annuals.

Characteristics

  • Sunset Zone

    4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Bulb or Corm or Tuber

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Spring, Late Winter

  • Native To

    Southern Africa, South Africa

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Yellow, Red, Blue, Purple, Orange, Violet, Blue Violet

  • Fruit Color

    Tan, Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes