Ashill, Holme Hale & District Garden Club



South African Bulbs & Carnivorous Plants

On a chilly late November afternoon members gathered in the warm Holme Hale Pavilion to hear Richard Clark of Panache Plants present a wonderful talk on South African Bulbs and Carnivorous plants. While our own gardens are losing their colour for winter, South African bulbs are in full bloom in the Southern Hemisphere at this time of year. 


Richard holds the National collection of Eucomis, with over 200 different species grown at his nursery near Dereham. Eucomis, or Pineapple lilies, are hardy perennial bulbs from Southern Africa and one of the very few plants that has leaves above the flowers. Richard explained that they are very easy to grow in our northern climate and will flower every year, requiring little feed or watering. Eucomis will grow quite happily in full sun in the ground or in pots. Eucomis grow well in pots as they don’t like winter wet. If planting in the ground choose a dry spot such as under a wall or incorporate lots of grit when you plant. Richard showed the wide range that Eucomis varieties come in, with species from as small as just a few inches to ones, such as Eucomis Palidiflora, which can grow to 6 feet tall. They also come in a wide range of colours, such as Eucomis sparkling burgundy, shown in the picture. Richard also discussed other South African plants such as Nerene’s and Salvia’s and how to grow them in our climate.


After a refreshing break for tea and biscuits, Richard changed topic to talk about a different group of exotic plants, namely carnivorous plants. The most widely known is the Venus flytrap, but this group also include the colourful Sarracenia pitcher plants, of which there are 8 species, some of which can grow up to 1 metre tall. These are bog plants mainly from America, they are fully hardy and easy to grow. Richard explained they can be grown either as houseplants, in a greenhouse, or outside, as long as you follow a few simple guidelines: Only grow in moss peat (general purpose compost contains feed which will quickly kill carnivorous plants). Do not feed with anything (they feed themselves, hence the name). Keep the moss constantly moist by standing the pot in a tray of rainwater and never allow to dry out. Do not use tap water. Many carnivorous plants need to become dormant and have a resting period during winter. It is best to leave them in a cold greenhouse over the winter. Remove any dead foliage, plants will regrow and flower the following Spring. Richard finished off the talk with a lively Q&A, before members took the opportunity to buy some bulbs and plants of the more exotic kind.


Upcoming Meetings

Our next meeting will be in January 2023 (January 26th) when Neil Spinks will present a talk about Attracting Birds to Our Garden. All meetings are held on the 4th Thursday of the month at Holme Hale Pavilion and start at 2.30pm. New members from anywhere in the district are always welcome, so come along and join us at one of our monthly meetings.