While I’m not a collector of South African bulbs like Albuca, Brunsvigia, Boophane, Nerine, etc., I bought several veltheimias a few years ago—both Veltheimia capensis and Veltheimia bracteata, the only two species in the genus.
None of them had ever bloomed. Until this week. My Veltheimia capensis finally sent up a flower stalk, and it’s so puuuurty.
The inflorescence reminds me both of aloes and kniphofias.
The bulb has the same papery outer layers as many members of the hyacinth family.
Veltheimia capensis is deciduous. For 9 months of out the year the pot it’s in appears empty. But in September the bulb comes to life, producing a flush of wrinkly leaves lightly covered with brownish spots and then a flower stalk that supposedly lasts through the winter. We shall see.
The other species in the genus, Veltheimia bracteata, has shiny leaves that are a darker green than those of Veltheimia capensis. It’s said to be evergreen in some climates, but in ours it loses its leaves in early summer and comes back in late summer.
I planted one Veltheimia bracteata in the ground two years ago and I now have three plants. Unfortunately, they haven’t flowered yet. The typical flower color is a deep pink, but there are pale yellow and even pale green forms as well.
Veltheimia bracteata is said to flower in light shade (which is were mine are) while Veltheimia capensis requires full sun to flower well. I’m not sure that’s entirely true because my Veltheimia capensis was in a mostly shady situation when it started to flower. I’ve now moved it to a sunnier spot.
I’m a huge fan of plants from Southern Africa (aloes, leucadendrons, etc.) because they provide visual interest at a time of year when our gardens aren’t looking all that great. I’m now thinking of adding a selection of South Africa bulbs to the new desert bed outside the front yard fence for even more winter and early spring interest.