Sparaxis - garden hybrid

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Botanical Name
Sparaxis - garden hybrid
Iridaceae - The iris family.
Common Name(s)
English: Harlequin Flower; Wandflower
Plant Group
  • Bulb / Corm / Rhizome / Tuber / Epigeal bulb Bulbs: are made up of fleshy scales as in an onion Corm: a short, swollen, underground stem that is hard and not fleshy as in a gladiolus Tuber: a solid, fleshy, underground, storage organ as in a potato Rhizome: an underground, horizontal, swollen stem at the base of the plant as in an iris Epigeal bulb: bulbs that rest above the ground with only the roots anchoring the plant to the earth as in albuca
Plant Size
  • Small to Medium
    Tree8m to 15m
    Shrub75cm to 1m
    Perennial/ground cover20cm to 40cm
    Bulb30cm to 40cm
    Succulent20cm to 40cm
  • Light or Dappled Shade Found below trees with sparse, open foliage. Ideal for the protection of herbaceous plants.
  • Partial Shade The area is in shade for part of the day and in full sun for part of the day.
  • Sun The area is in full sun for all or most of the day, all year round.
General Information
  • Deciduous Plants which completely lose their foliage for part of the year.
  • Drought Tolerance: High The plant is well adapted to arid conditions; it can survive long periods of drought and high temperatures without extra water.
  • Frost: Half-hardy The plant is able to survive low temperatures and some frost but requires protection against severe frost.
  • Water Wise Plant species originating from low rainfall regions that require less water to survive and thrive than other plant species.
Specific Information

Sparaxis are small, perennial corms that are often grown as annuals, more so by overseas gardeners. They originate from a wet winter rainfall habitat, growing in winter, flowering in spring and remaining dormant underground during the dry summer season. The variety of colours and individuality of patterns on their conspicuous flowers are truly exceptional. They are tough and can be left in the soil but are reportedly at their best in a container, where their water and dormancy period can be properly monitored. The specimens shown in the photos were lifted from a patch of lawn where they had been mown down for years and rarely reached a height of 10cm. It did not take them long to recover from this abuse and they have flowered and seeded freely for the past two years. If planted in a shady area, make sure they get a few hours of direct sun daily or flowering will be compromised.

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trumpet shaped flowers on a spike

  • Spring Plants will seldom bloom for the entire season as given in the list, but should flower during a period within these parameters.
  • pink
  • purple
  • red
  • white
  • yellow
  • orange
Growth Rate
  • Moderate to Fast Specifying growth rate can be very misleading as there is considerable variation of growth rate depending on type and species of plant, available water, supplementary feeding, mulching and general care, as well as the plants suitability and adaptability to the garden environment.
Plant Uses
  • Attracts bees, butterflies or other insects This plant attracts insects which can be food for birds or other creatures in your garden.
  • Container Trees, shrubs and ornamental species that can adapt to growing in a restricted environment.
  • Cut Flowers Plants that provide flowers suitable for ornamental uses.
  • Edging A low growing plant that provides softness or definition to the edges of a bed or walkway.
  • Filler Either a fast growing tree or shrub used temporarily to fill in an area while the permanent plants grow to a desired size, or a plant used to fill gaps in borders or beds.
  • Interplanting Arranging and planting plants in the garden that have different blooming times and habits of growth, extending the amount of time in which the area is in flower.
  • Pot Plant A plant that needs a protected environment on a patio or indoors.
  • Rock Garden An area constructed of larger rocks, arranged naturally, to emphasise the use of stones as a main element. Generally plants used do not need a lot of care.
  • Wild Garden An indigenous garden planted for the benefit of wildlife and birds. Provides food, water, a variety of mini-biomes and no poisonous chemicals are used.
Distribution and Habitat

all members of this genus are found in the Western Cape Province of South Africa, in a Mediterranean climate

Planting Suggestions

If used in the garden, plant the corms about 7 cm apart at a depth of about three times their height, in light, well-drained soil. Drainage can be improved with a gentle slope or the addition of compost and medium-grain sand. Water well fortnightly during winter and spring in order to keep the soil permanently moist. After blooming has finished for the season leave the foliage in place; don't cut it off. The leaves will gather sunlight to create food and strengthen the bulb for the following season. Late in the summer the leaves will yellow and die back as the plant slips into dormancy and foliage many be removed at this point. When the leaves die back, stop all watering. Preferably remove corms from the ground every second year during the dormant period. If left in the ground, ensure that they are kept dry and protected against overheating. In summer rainfall climates lift the corms and store them until planting time the following autumn. For pots mix two parts coarse river sand, one part loam and one part fine compost. Ensure good drainage by placing some bark or stones in the base of the container. Sterilize the soil by pour boiling water into the pots to kill off most of the weed seeds. Plant corms at a depth of about 3 cm. Store the pot in a cool dry spot during summer.

Medicinal Uses

No data found.

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in 1997 at my house in pretoria i planted 241 bulbs of the most beautiful sparaxis and got soo many fantastic replies and they flowered sooooo amazing surely one of the most amazing bulbs from S.A !!!!!!! .

Hi Jack

Thanks for your comment and I quite agree with you. The colour variations are amazing. There are few other bulbs with such variety.

Kind regards

This will be my first time with Sparaxis. We have a lot of squirrels that dig up tulip bulbs - will they do the same with Sparaxis?

Hi Karen

I really have no idea. Perhaps a reader will be able to tell us.

Kind regards

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