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Rhodophiala bifida - plant of the month sept 2014

The genus Rhodophiala is a member of the Amaryllidaceae and comprises around 35 species of bulbous plants from South America. Rhodophiala bifida grows in north-east and central Argentina and Uruguay in areas that receive some summer rainfall, it is therefore important that the resting bulbs do not become too dry as this is detrimental to the persistant root system. It is certainly cold-hardy under glass (several years at sub-zero temperatures with no loses) and has been grown outside in a number of gardens in the UK  with sucess.

Needs full sun to thrive, in a compost that is well drained and fairly rich. In the wild it comes from areas of alkaline reactivity with an area in the north of its distribution being of an acidic, heavy clay make up. It doesn't make many offsets for me so seed is the best method of propagation. (the pot shown was from seed sown in 2003)

Rhodophiala bifida has been cultivated for a long time in British gardens; an illustration can be found dating from 1832 (Edwards botanical register) as Amaryllis kermesiana. Several colour-forms are known from dark red through pink to white.

Ray Drew