Bulbine (Bulbine frutescens), evergreen succulent 12 to 18 inches in height with a larger spread, fleshy bright green leaves, spike-like clusters of bright yellow or orange flowers most of the year, full sun, drought tolerant, good container plant.
A native of Africa, the name Bulbine comes from the Latin word bulbus meaning an onion or bulb. This name is misleading, as plants do not have a bulbous base.
This is a popular, waterwise garden plant, especially when planted en masse as a ground cover, or in rock gardens. It is also cultivated for its medicinal properties.
Bulbine is a fast growing, branched, succulent perennial with fleshy, linear green leaves in opposite rows and clasping the stems at the base. It forms spreading clumps with greyish stems often bearing adventitious roots. The small 6-petaled star shaped flowers are carried on an upright, spreading raceme during spring, and at other times of year, depending on location. The petals are either yellow or sometimes orange, which combines attractively with the fluffy yellow stamens to give a bi-coloured look. The brightly coloured flowers attract bees.
Bulbine frutescens is often used in landscaping where a drought-resistant, tough groundcover is required. It also has its value in the home garden.
The fresh leaf produces a jelly-like juice that is wonderful for burns, rashes, blisters, insect bites, cracked lips, acne, cold sores, mouth ulcers and areas of cracked skin. This plant is ideal to grow and is a useful first-aid remedy for childrens’ daily knocks and scrapes. The Rastafarians make an infusion of a few fresh leaves in a cup of boiling water. The strained drink is taken for coughs, colds and arthritis.
This is a an easy to grow, waterwise, floriferous groundcover, which with the minimum of care, will look good all year round. It combines beautifully with blue dwarf agapanthus, flowering at the same time.
This succulent perennial multiplies rapidly. Prune it when untidy. For best results it should be planted in well-drained soil preferably enriched with compost. The dead flower heads should be removed to encourage further flowering. These plants prefer full sun, but they will also grow in semi-shade for part of the day.