Sparaxis tricolor

Sparaxis tricolor

Sometimes called the harlequin flower, this is a tough, spring-blooming corm from South Africa, in the same plant family (Iridaceae) as Babiana, Ixia, Freesia and Watsonia, that also do well in our Sydney climate. The flowers are star shaped and often have black or yellow centre. The main flower colour can be red, yellow, white, purple or orange. The leaves are lance shaped and held in a fan to a height of 20-30 cm. Plant bulbs in mid-autumn, about 2 cm deep and 5 cm apart.They grow best in a sunny, very well-drained position that is fairly dry over summer when the corms are dormant.

Sparaxis tricolor, Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney

They can be left to naturalise in the garden, but can be dug up every few years when they become very congested. Do this in early summer and store them in a net bag somewhere cool and dry, then replant them in autumn. Sparaxis appreciate some liquid fertiliser before and after flowering. Allow the foliage to die down fully before removing it, as this helps the following year's blooming performance. Sparaxis is said to be frost tolerant.

Flowers in August, September.