Chasmanthe floribunda, the African Flag, is a tall flowering member of the crocus family with bright orange-red, tubular, arching flowers arranged one above another in two-dimensional vertical rows on opposite sides of the flower stem. The flowerheads are exotic-looking and each flower has a long arching tube like a snake ending in a flared hood which looks somewhat like the top of a cobra's head, hence one of its common names: Cobra Lily. The stamens protruding like a tongue from the end of the tube complete the snake-like look. The leaves of Chasmanthe floribunda are tall, lime-green and sword-shaped and form large clumps as the corms increase each year. It poses no real problem in a large terracotta container that can be brought in during the winter but Chasmanthe floribunda represents a challenge to get to flower if planted outdoors in the UK. It is not fully hardy in all parts of the country and only in the coastal south of the UK does it really successfully manage the damage of both the wind and cold. At the same time - just to be tricky - it prefers to be left undisturbed and it is best to leave the clumps to establish themselves for a few seasons before dividing as they often will not flower for a full season after being lifted. For this reason - and with it not being fully hardy - a little ingenuity must be used to overwinter them outdoors. A very free-draining sandy substrate is essential. Deep planting is recommended. When the colder winter weather starts approaching in October and early November, the surrounding area can be thickly mulched with straw then covered with a large bell-jar or clear plastic bin. A sheet of heavy-grade fleece over the top and held down with bricks gives added protection. Depending on the location and aspect as well as the temperature, the foliage usually' doesn't make it through the winter and may turn yellow and drop off. Be realistic about your location. If your winters are very cold and wet then this is a plant that is better left in a container and brought in. A large pot is needed and leave them for 3-4 years before dividing. Keeping the overwintering corms dry, warm, well-drained and undisturbed is the key.
These corms are now growing fast and we will only continue to ship them for a few weeks more.
|Synonyms||Antholyza aethiopica, Antholyza floribunda, Chasmanthe aethiopica, Pentamenes aethiopica|
|Geographical Origin||Southwestern Cape of South Africa from the Bokkeveld Mountains south to the coastal area around Hermanus|
|Cultivation||Full sun. Well drained sandy soil. Planting the corms with extra sand and grit is recommended|
|Hardiness||Not fully hardy in the UK. Southern counties can leave the corms in over winter if the site is free-draining enough and the ground is kept warm. Otherwise, use a large container and bring indoors overwinter, leave undisturbed for 3-4 years before dividing|
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