Brunsvigia
Bill Dijk

A striking genus (that never fails to attract attention) of approximately 20 species all from South-Africa and closely related to the Amaryllis and Nerine. Their funnel-shaped flower are brilliantly coloured and may be scarlet, pink, red or pale red. These are mainly winter growing and summer dormant bulbs which usually flower from early autumn onwards.

This is a genus not well know in culture (except in the wild) mainly for a variety of reasons that requires exact treatment, and should only be attempted and successfully grown by the very dedicated, determinated and patient bulb enthusiast that will pay attention to the careful management of this genus.
Usually the bulbs are very large, up to 20 cm across and they can take up to 10 years or more to reach flowering size for some species, although with me I had Brunsvigia gregaria prolifically blooming in 4 years, one of the easier species I have to admit.

They recent being shifted and flower best when growing in a tight clump, where they get a good baking.

They grow in variety of soils in their habitats, but most species have a long complete resting period during the summer dry.
When grown in cultivation they should have perfect well-drained soil and full sun, in a spot which remains dry during the summer.

The bulbs should benefit from a dressing of sulphate of potash, which produces good buds, colour and good foliage growth, important for essential bulb increase and flower crop again for the next season. 

Irrigate well during the growing season from autumn to spring and allow a rest period without irrigation during the summer. After flowering and if pollinated, the large heads eventually break free from the bulb and roll in the wind, scattering seeds from the papery pods, culminating in the classic tumble weed.

The pea-sized, fleshy seed is produced freely, but has a short period of viability and should be sown as soon as possible on the surface of a sandy mixture , and will germinate in a few days if conditions are favourable.

Brunsvigias make excellent container plants and can be grown in containers of mainly bigger size and shape and sometimes necessary in colder climates or where space is at a premium. Containers must be moved indoors if winters are cold, frosty and wet.

They should be planted in equal parts of sand loam, pumice and composted bark.

Brunsvigia josephinae: perhaps one of the most impressive species, (was named after Napoleon's Empress) is the candelabra lily, producing in late summer spectacular heads of  20 or more bright rosy red flowers.

These are long lasting and are carried on stems up to 1.5 m. tall.

The huge bulbs prefer growing on top of the ground or the neck just above soil level, and this plant is ideal  for containers and dry areas 

Brunsvigia grandiflora: this is another stately, beautiful flower, spike up to 70 cm. with large cerise flowers, having a dark stripe on each petal.

Brunsvigia litoralis: produces up to 20-30 rusty red flowers per 1m. stem after watering in late summer.

This is a fairly rare species, similar to B. josephinae but with bulbs half its size.

Brunsvigia gregaria: this species is one of the easiest to grow and flower. Pinkish-red flowers of many shades appear in late summer.

The attractive, glabrous, prostrate leaves also makes an ideal foil for the flowers when grown in pots.  

Brunsvigia marginata:  unfortunately this spectacular species with its scarlet head of flowers, has not bloomed for me as yet, but have high hopes of it performing this season, this is one species I am really looking forward to admire.

Brunsvigia orientalis, radulosa, bosmaniae, comptonii, natalensis, undulata, and a few others, are all deserving, desirable species, supplementing and in addition to the already impressive  list of treasures.

I hope, if any of the members on this list growing some of these species, will tell us which one you grow and how successful you've been so far and share your valuable experiences with other keen growers, itching to have a go.
I am also interested in any further tips or shortcuts regarding potting mix, treatment, etc. for more  reliable successful blooming.

Has any grower done any breeding with the Amaryllis belladonna, Crinum and or Nerine?

How successful was the breeding, are you pleased with the results?

Come on you Aussies, you must have a few ready to flower shortly, especially your strikingly beautiful Belladonna multiflora which can produce 30-40 flowers per umbel, and was supposed to be a crossing between Amaryllis belladonna with Brunsvigia multiflora, the first recorded breeding with the belladonna in the nineteenth century, by John Bidwill in Sydney, I believe.

All in all a long-term if  rewarding task, well worth the extra effort, when finally seen in its full glory.

Will post some nice pictures as per usual on the PBS, IBS and the AB images groups for the benefit of all bulb enthusiasts.
Enjoy.
 
Best wishes, 
 
Bill Dijk (Jan 12, 2003)
New Zealand, where its warm, (28 C.) humid, raining, (100 mm in 24 hrs.) and slaving away digging, tipping, cleaning in the nursery.(sigh)
 
Tauranga : mean annual rainfall :1250 mm.
Sunshine hours, mean annual  :  2350 hours.
Temp.mean max.Summer : 25C.   Winter:15C.
Temp.mean min. Summer :14.5C. Winter: 5C.
Wet mild Winters with occasional light frost.