Habitat: Sub-saharian Africa.
Cultivation: Easy to grow. A semi-shaded position, regular waterings during the growing season and mild temperatures will do well.
Curiosity: Its name literally means “similar to Drimia”, another genus of a bulbous plant, with which it has several common characteristics.
Drimiopsis is a genus of bulbous, perennial plants, native to South Africa and belonging to the family of Asparagaceae. It includes around 32 species.
These plants are native to sub-saharian Africa (many of them, though, are from South Africa). Their habitat consists usually in valley grasslands of semi-arid areas, where they often prefer sandy or clayey soils, though some species can also be found in shaded stream banks and in sandy soil in humid environments, near the coast. They can be found also in woods and forests.
They most well-known and sought after species of Drimiopsis is undoubtely D. maculata, because of its adaptability to any cultivation condition and the remarkable decorative potential of its leaves, which are bright green with big, brown spots.
Drimiopsis, in general, are herbaceous plants that don’t exceed 30-40 centimeters in height and are perennial thanks to their bulb, which has the function to store nutrients and water during the dry season and allows the plant to survive throughout many years. In Spring, the multiple bulblets formed from the the mother plants give birth to many little plants that create little clumps.
Drimiopsis are usually deciduous: this means that, in winter, only the bulb is left and the plant looses its leaves and stems.
The bulbs of these plants are usually fleshy and semi-exposed (never completely buried). They are more or less ovoidal-globose and they’re covered in a brown, papery, scaly envelope.
The leaves, usually fleshy, lanceolated or slightly heart-shaped, around 15 centimeters long (though their effective dimension can vary according to the species), are bright green and blotched with numerous, dark purple to brown, spots. According to botanists, spotted leaves are the plant’s way of camouflaging itself and defend against phytophagous insects. The dark colour of their spots is usually enhanced by a shady exposition.
Flowers are borne by an elongated peduncle (it reaches 300 centimeters in height), which ends up in a spike-like inflorescence, with numerous, green and white flowers. In the inflorescence, the flowers open from the bottom to the top. They are white when still small and closed and turn green when they open. The pollinators are honey bees and other insects.
The bulb scales of some species of Drimiopsis might have been traditionally used to wash the body, but this fact is actually uncertain and some other authors suggest that, instead, bulb scales cause skin inflamation.
Drimiopsis does well as a container plant, ground cover, filler, and in shady rock gardens.
VARIETY AND TYPES
Here below are some species of Drimiopsis.
- D. atropurpurea
- D. barteri
- D. botryoides
- D. burkei
- D. comptonii
- D. davidsoniae
- D. fischeri
- D. linioseta
- D. maculata
- D. pusilla
- D. reilleyana
- D. rosea
- D. seretii
- D. spicata
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TIPS FOR GROWING
Drimiopsis is not so difficult to grow, and will do well as a ground cover and in shady, rocky gardens.
- Place it in partial shade to enhance the colours of its blotched foliage.
- Water regularly, every 2-3 days, waiting for the soil to dry up before each watering. In Winter, when the plant goes dormant, you can reduce the irrigation frequency.
- In Winter, we advice to shelter your Drimiopsis from frost by putting it indoors: Never leave it a temperature below 5ºC.
- Drimiopsis fits well in many different kinds of soil: a standard mix for cacti will suit well, or you can either use a universal substrate for ornamental plant with added perlite, peat, sand and further draining materials.
- Fertilization should be carried out, during the growing season, once every two weeks with a liquid fertilizer.
- Repotting necessities vary according on the species.
The best propagation method is actually the division of the bulbs: you’ll have just to separate the bulbs and then replant them.