This South African native is a perfect perennial for Florida since it tolerates hot temperatures, dry and sandy soils, and blooms throughout the warm months.
Bulbine has become a popular plant in Florida because it is drought tolerant, grows well in poor soils, and blooms repeatedly with cheerful flowers that are yellow or orange, depending on the variety. It is suited for gardens in USDA Zones 9-11 and is hardy to the low 20s.
It makes a great ground cover since each plant will grow over time to form a clump that can reach up to four feet wide. This clumping habit also makes bulbine a great passalong plant.
The succulent, grass-like foliage grows to about a foot tall, while the flower stalks typically reach two feet, dancing above the leaves throughout the summer months.
Bulbine was named a 2006 Plant of the Year by the Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association. It is generally sold under the scientific name Bulbine frutescens, though some nurseries use the synonyms B. fruticosum or B. caulescens.
Planting and Care
Bulbine will grow best if it is planted in a spot that receives full sun and has well-drained soil, though it can be grown in a site that gets shade for part of the day. Once established, bulbine is very drought tolerant.
Propagation is easy since plants can be divided when the clumps get big enough, and the plants will self-seed (although not the popular orange 'Hallmark' cultivar, since it is sterile).
Deadheading will encourage the plants to produce more flowers, but it is not necessary.
For more information on bulbine, contact your county Extension office.
- 2006 Florida Plants of the Year (PDF)
- Perennial Gardening in Florida
- Try These Five Stellar Flowering Perennials (PDF)
Also on Gardening in a Minute
- Bulbine--Pacific Bulb Society
- Bulbine: a Long-Lost Beauty on the Market--Learn2Grow
- Bulbine frutescens--Pima County (AZ) Master Gardeners
- Bulbine frutescens--South African National Biodiversity Institute
- Plant of the Week: Stalked Bulbine--University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Serivce