Common names include: Jacobean Lily, Jacob’s Lily, Aztec Lily, Maltese Cross.
With a cluster of common names this bulbous plant comes from the tropical and subtropical deserts of Mexico preferring mild dry winters. Only one species is widely grown in Australia … Sprekelia formosissima.
There are other species of Sprekelia as well as selected cultivars of this bulbous plant grown by avid collectors within Australia and overseas. These are generally only available except through other collectors.
Grow this plant outdoors in warm climates. If a large clump develops, lift and divide it. Tight clumps may increase the incidence of mealy bugs although this bulbous plant is generally pest free.
Flowers tend to appear in mid summer and early autumn. Large clumps of the plant can be covered in a mass of red blooms.
Strappy green leaves tend to flop over onto the ground rather than being held erect.
As a landscape plant the foliage itself is worth cultivation as it complements other leafy plants like species and cultivars of Liriope, Ophiopogon, Lomandra and Dianella.
Ideal growing conditions include:
- full sun
- soil with good organic matter
- liquid fertiliser in mid spring and as buds appear
- supplementary water only during hot dry summers
- allowing for dry rest period during winter.
Sprekelia are great pot plants while in flower and should be more widely grown in warm climates.
Written by Paul Plant, Editor of subTropical Gardening - www.stgmagazine.com.au