In this article, we will discover how to grow the bulb Anthericum in containers. Anthericum is a rhizomatous perennial that belongs to the Asparagus family. Not often seen in garden centres or online but it is a plant that has been known for centuries.
The plants in this genus have narrow, strap-like green leaves from which tall spikes of star-like white flowers with yellow anthers appear. It is a genus that is often found growing in Southern Africa and Europe. It may sound familiar to many houseplant growers as the spider plant, Chlorophytum used to belong to this genus.
You may wonder how they get the common name of St. Bernard’s lily as some species are naturally found in the Alps, whose patron saint is Saint Bernard.
You may wonder why the species are not commonly grown here in the UK. The answer to this as it has a reputation of being a slow starter as it takes two years’ worth of growth before the flowers appear. They are great for making naturalised subjects in the container garden.
GROWING ANTHERICUM FROM SEED
You can grow Anthericum from seed or by planting the tuberous roots if you can find them.
To grow from seed is quite easy. All you need to do is fill a seed tray with moist good quality seed compost. In the compost, create holes at close intervals at a depth of 3mm using a dibber and place a seed in each hole. You can now cover the seeds with more compost and cover with a propagator lid. Place it in a cool spot that gets as much light as possible.
Be warned the seeds are very slow to germinate, it could take up to one to three months to germinate. Once the seedlings are big enough to handle, you can prick them out into 7.5cm individual pots full of multipurpose compost. Allow them to grow on in a cold frame until they have reached a suitable size, as this can take months. As they have been grown outside, they will not need to be hardened off before planting outside.
If you do not want to grow from seed, you can buy garden-ready plants from specialised garden suppliers. At this stage, you can treat home-reared plants and shop-bought garden-ready plants in the same way.
First, select a suitable sized container that will look balanced with the plant in question. Whatever you choose make sure it has plenty of drainage holes, On top of the bottom of the container, add 1cm of gravel to aid drainage.
Anthericum requires enriched compost to grow in and to achieve this mix a couple of handfuls of manure into the multipurpose compost. Use this mixture and add it to the container to within 5cm from the top rim. Whilst making the mixture you can also add a handful of slow-release fertilizer to help get it through the growing season.
Dig a hole in the compost that is slightly bigger than the root ball it came in the original container. Drop the plant in so that the top of the root ball is at the same level as the top surface of the compost. Backfill with the growing media so that no gaps remain, using more compost if it is required. Firm the plant in and water well.
You can place the container and plant in a sunny location, but it can take light shade. You will need to water regularly throughout the summer months, especially when heatwaves are being forecasted. Water when 5cm below the top of the surface of the compost feels dry to the touch.
You will need to feed every spring with a slow-release fertilizer to get the plant to flower well. After flowering, you will need to cut the spent blooms near the base, especially important if the summer has been a hot one.
If you planted from seeds, it can take 3 years to flower but depending on how old the shop-bought plant is, it can take one to two tears to reach maturity and be ready to flower. This is one flower that takes patience.
PESTS AND DISEASES
In general, pests will leave them alone and diseases will not touch them. Saying that slugs and snails will find young leaves to be too tempting. You will need to protect them by using slug pellets or wool deterrent matting.
VARIETIES TO GROW
There are two species that you can find as seeds or garden-ready plants:
This includes Anthericum liliago which produces its white starry flowers from May to July. The flowers have yellow anthers m giving a cloud-like effect above the grassy green leaves. One variety of note is ‘Major’.
The other is A. romasum which has branching flower stems of white blooms.
In this article, we have discussed how to grow the beautiful but not often seen bulbous perennial Anthericum in containers. As you can see it is easy to grow and look after plant but if you grow from seeds it will take a while to produce its blooms. Be patient and you will be rewarded.
Great for those who have a tinkling or liking for white flowers in their container garden. If you have any questions or comments that you wish to make on growing Anthericums in containers, please do so in the comment box below.
Happy Anthericum growing.