Bulbine Frutescens

A Quick Guide to Bulbine Frutescens

Bulbine frutescens is a plant which is native to South Africa. It is not fussy about the amount of care it receives and is an excellent choice for gardens which receive little rain. It spreads by rhizomes underground which grow into clumps of new plants. The leaves of the plants are very succulent, which is one of the reasons it survives without watering better than other plants.

Two types of plants

Bulbine frutescens is available in two types: one is a hybrid and is known as “Hallmark ™” with small orange flowers. The other version of the plant is the original bulbine frutescens, which has yellow flowers. The original plant grows to approximately a foot and a half tall and three feet wide. The Hallmark plant is slightly smaller. This species has leaves which are cylindrical and up to six inches long.

Bulbine frutescens care

If you want a plant which can flower throughout cold weather, you should give bulbine frutescens a try. Experts note that it’s hardy down to 10 degrees. The yellow or orange flowers appear in spikes during fall, winter and spring seasons. If you do have extended periods of frost and very cold temperatures, there is a possibility that the foliage will be affected. It grows naturally in Africa in regions where the temperatures are warm and dry.

You don’t have to pamper your bulbine plant. If your bulbine frutescens does have winter damage, it will grow an abundance of new leaves in the spring. Never over-water these flowers as they perform well even in extreme drought. The only time when you might want to water is when they are growing new leaves and flowers if it’s necessary.

Gardeners who love low-maintenance plants will be extremely happy with the bulbine frutescens. You can plant them in full sun or in partly shady conditions. Because they do so well in dry conditions, you often see this plant in rock gardens with cacti or along the sides of a walk or drive. They rarely need to be pruned.

Burn jelly plant

In the United States, you will see bulbine frutescens in such Western states as Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and California. In addition to being propagated by clumps, it has black seeds which are spread by the wind. Sometimes the plant is also known as cat’s tail, snake flower, geelkatstert, or burn jelly plant.

The name, “burn jelly plant” refers to a juice produced by the plant which looks a lot like jelly. The jelly is used as a home remedy to treat burns, cracked skin and lips, bites, blisters, rashes, sores around the mouth and acne. This plant liquid makes a great first-aid treatment for all types of scrapes and scratches. The leaves of the burn jelly plant are often boiled to make a tea infusion that is believed to treat such ailments as joint pain and the common cold.

Use as ground cover

If you are in need of a ground cover plant which grows well in dry conditions, you will undoubtedly be pleased with bulbine frutescens. It also meets the needs of gardeners who live in colder climates where temperatures can drop low but without snow cover. Very few plants flower in adverse conditions like this one.

The orange flowers are all well-suited to mix with other garden plants, such as the blue dwarf agapanthus. Sometimes these orange and yellow flowers are planted as ground cover under desert trees. Try it out in your garden this year. You will be pleased with the results you get with only minimal plant care time.