low; moderate; water wise
30 - 50 cm
shade; light shade; dappled shade
pink; yellow variety available; July – September; winter; spring
shade; light shade; dappled shade; container; small gardens; walls; narrow spaces; sandy soils; wildlife bees butterflies insects
thicket; subtropical East Coast
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When bulb-eating moles are eating your Forest Lilies, raise your game and grow them in pots. Veltheimia bracteata thrive when contained and raised out of the ground, as long as the soil remains moist during the growing period, and friable. A member of the Hyacinth family, the Glossy Forest Lily has broad, glossy dark green leaves with an attractive wavy margin along its length. From July to September, they support a tall, sturdy stem (50 cm) with a short, tapering flower head of a pinky-red. These vaguely resemble an aloe flower. Place pots of this shade-loving species in front of a contrasting foliage – small, light leaves, like Indigofera micrantha – or standing tall in a field of groundcovers. They make excellent indoor or patio plants until the leaves die down for a short period in midsummer, before emerging once again. Keep a watch for the Lily Borer, although I have found them not as susceptible to this pest as the Crinum and Clivia species are; if found, pick them off by hand and squash – by far the most humane method of pest removal. Water the plants during their growing time; the soil shouldn’t dry out, but not be too moist either as the neck of the bulb will rot. Allow the leaves to dry on the plant before removing. Browning leaves – and a seemingly empty pot – can be planted up with shallow rooting groundcovers, like Crassula sarmentosa, Plectranthus ciliatus or P. purpuratus, or with shade- loving spring- and summer-flowering bulbs, like Freesia laxa. As containers are closed systems, feed the bulbs in summer. Planted beneath evergreen trees, or in the protective shade of understorey shrubs, they will survive in frosty gardens if kept out of the morning sun. This versatile plant fares well in coastal gardens, the strong stem standing up to winds and humidity.