Schizostylis is a superb autumn - early winter - flowering Rhizome - bulb - that will fit into many places in most gardens.
The flowers are generally a delicate pink or orange red in hue, and seem to be completely at ease with whatever autumn weather is thrown at them. The flowering clusters look so fragile as to be non-hardy, but hardy they are, and should find a place in any border or garden bed.
Schizostylis coccinea Mrs Hegarty
It is a member of the Iris family - Iridaceae. The cultivar in the image below, is Schizostylis coccinea Mrs Hegarty.
Schizostylis can be planted anywhere in moist but well-drained soils, and are particularly suited to the front of either shrub or perennial borders. I have photographed them beneath majestic oak trees, so there is not too much moist soil to be had in this situation!
They prefer full sun but will also tolerate a degree of shade - especially below deciduous trees or shrubs. Schizostylis are bound to attract attention in any garden owing to their delicate flowers at a sometimes hostile and colourless time of year. Peeping up through early leaf litter, the flowers stand out well against other more conventional autumn and winter shades.
Schizostylis are admirable plants for the rock garden, but nearer to the foot of the rockery in order not to be deprived of too much moisture.
The Kaffir Lily - which originates from South Africa - is evergreen, but with slender leaves that will not be too invasive in any planting scheme. They will form clumps over the course of a year or so, and are splendid in large drifts.
Schizostylis also make admirable container plants, and if moved to a cold greenhouse during early winter, will provide a succession of flowers for several months. The flowers are well suited to cutting and decorating the winter table in the house.
As Schizostylis are evergreen rhizomatous perennials, they are normally bought at pot grown or containerised plants at garden centres or nurseries. They are also available as mail order or online container grown plants - normally in a 2 litre pot, and can be bought at any time of the year. However, be aware that they will more or less fly off the garden centre shelves as soon as in flower!
When planting your Schizostylis, add plenty of compost or other organic matter to the planting hole, and also mulch around the plant after planting. Most places of the garden - other than waterlogged or very dry - will be suitable. Allow space for the plants to develop to around three times bought size in the second year.
Schizostylis can be grown from either bought or saved seed. Be aware that the seedlings may be of different colour to the parent. No matter, all the more fun and anticipation. Save the seed until spring, and sow in a gently heated greenhouse or propagator. Just a little heat.
Otherwise, Schizostylis can be propagated by dividing the plants rhizomes during early spring, and replanting immediately.
Iris ensata 'Sansation'
Leucojum vernum - the Snowpake