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Products > Veltheimia bracteata
Veltheimia bracteata - Forest Lily
Image of Veltheimia bracteata
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Bulb/Tuber/Rhizome etc.
Family: Hyacinthaceae (~Amaryllidaceae)
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Flower Color: Light Pink
Bloomtime: Winter/Spring
Synonyms: [Veltheimia viridifolia]
Height: 1 foot
Width: 1-2 feet
Exposure: Light Shade/Part Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25 F
Veltheimia bracteata (Forest Lily) - A South African semi-deciduous winter growing bulb that produces a dozen or so glossy green leaves that are 1 foot to 18 inches long and 3 inches wide with wavy margins. In late winter and early spring appear the pale rose-pink tubular flowers, upright and green tipped in bud and dangling downward when open, on 1-2-foot-tall fleshy stalks, somewhat similar to those of small red hot poker plants (Kniphofia). Flowers are followed by large 3-winged papery capsules that are unusually attractive in their own right.

Grow in light shade, water regularly to occasionally - actually pretty drought tolerant if allowed to go dormant. A great plant for the shade garden - can be nearly evergreen in summer months if watered but will rot if soil does not drain well with this treatment - best to allow to dry out in summer with new foliage coming on in fall. This is a pretty carefree and easy plant for us to grow outdoors in shaded areas with occasional to infrequent to no irrigation in our mediterranean climate.The New York Botanical Garden Encyclopedia of Horticulture does give a recommendation for growing this plant indoors in other climates, noting that "Veltheimias are not tropical. When grown indoors they give best results if the temperature from fall to spring at night is 50 to 55 F and by day does not exceed that by more than five to fifteen degrees, according to the brightness of the weather. During the period of summer dormancy, the soil is kept dry. Watering is resumed at the first sign of new growth and is done to keep the soil moderately and evenly moist until, in late spring, the foliage begins to show signs of yellowing."

Veltheimia bracteata comes from a wide area of the Cape area and in Namaqualand where it grows on rocky slopes. The genus, first published in 1771 by German botanist Johann Gottlieb Gleditsch (1714-1786), who honored himself with the naming of the genus of the Locust trees (Gleditsia), was named to honor Count Frederick Augustus von Veltheim (1741-1801) a German patron of Botany. This plant was long called Veltheimia viridifolia (meaning green leaves), a name given the plant in 1797 by the Dutch scientist and medical doctor Nikolaus Joseph von Jacquin, but this species and a plant called Veltheimia undulata was subsumed into Veltheimia bracteata as described by William Harvey in 1871. The

One of the first reported instances of the cultivation of Veltheimia bracteata (as Veltheimia viridiflora) in California was noted by Harry Butterfield in his 1964 UC Davis document Dates of Introduction of Trees and Shrubs to California to be in the garden of Jemina Branin in San Lorenzo, California in 1929. Branin was born in Scotland in 1845 and moved to Alameda County in 1865 where she lived out her 97 years gardening. She corresponded with many horticulturists of her day and was honored for her work on hybridizing Iris with many named cultivars Spuria and Bearded Iris credited to her. Victoria Padilla in her Southern California Gardens (University of California Press, 1961) however credits Santa Barbara plantsman E.O. Orpet (1863-1956) with the introduction of this plant but without noting a date.

We have grown this attractive plant since 1988 and also grow a selected yellow cultivar we call Veltheimia bracteata 'Yellow Comet', a seedling group of mixed pastel flower colored selections we call Veltheimia bracteata "Pastel Series" and the beautiful gray foliaged Veltheimia capensis

This information about Veltheimia bracteata displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.