Lachenalia aloides (opal flower) is a species of flowering plant in the family Asparagaceae, native to the Western Cape of South Africa. It is a bulbous perennial growing to 15–28 cm tall by 5 cm broad, with strap-shaped spotted leaves and fleshy stems bearing pendant tubular yellow flowers, red at the tips, in winter and spring.
The Latin aloides literally means "aloe-like"; though L. aloides, despite its similarity, does not belong to the same family of plants as aloes. Numerous cultivars have been bred for garden use. They require a sheltered, frost-free position or under glass. The following have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit: L. aloides var. aurea and L. aloides var. quadricolor.
Lachenalia look good planted at the front of beds and borders, in rockeries, along pathways or in pots. Plant into well drained soil in a sunny position. They will tolerate some shade but flower better in sun. Plant 5-10cm deep and 10cm apart. Water in then keep just moist in growth. Add a little fertiliser when they begin to bloom and that is about all you will need to do. They are easy care bulbs that can be left in the ground to naturalise. Try combining Lachenalia with Muscari or Grape Hyacinths; they also grow well with early Daffodils or spring star flowers.
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