Urginea epigea is native to Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina, Cameroon, Cape Provinces, Chad, Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Free State, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, KwaZulu-Natal, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Northern Provinces, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zaïre. The plant grows on savanna, open woodland and scrub and can spread up to 2100 m of altitude.
Urginea epigea is a perennial bulbous succulent belonging to the Asparagaceae botanical family. The plant has an erect habit and can reach up to 2m in height. The leaves are lanceolate, light green and glabrous. The bulb is very large, globose, stout, up to 15 cm in diameter, half above ground with white fleshy scales that turn brown when they die. Blooming occurs during the Spring and the blossoms are borne at the apex of the bulb. The inflorescence is a cylindrical raceme 90 cm long made of 700 flowers. The flowers are bell-shaped, white to greenish-white. The fruits are globose green capsules containing black, glossy and flattened seeds.
The plant has a slow growth rate but it easy to cultivate. The plant needs a bright exposure, indirect sun-light, this will help development of flower buds. Long exposure to direct sun-light can cause burns and burnt spots. The maximum resistance to cold is 10 °C so it is recommended not to expose the plant to lower temperatures. Too low temperatures can cause the stem or leaves to break due to water freezing inside the tissues. Temperatures between 10 and 15 °C allow the plants to enter vegetative rest which is essential for the flowering of the following year. Plants should not be placed inside the house where average temperatures of 20 degrees prevent vegetative rest. The soil should be mixed with pumice, clay and loam to allow the drainage and prevent the root rot, the plant is prone to it indeed. The pumice should always be placed on the bottom of the pot. Remember to use a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly during the vegetative period. Irrigation is proportional to the size of the pot, the position and the season. In Spring and Autumn the plant can be watered with a glass of water every 7-10 days; in summer it can be watered every 3-5 days. Decrease the amount of water if the plant is kept indoors or if the pot is smaller than 12 cm. The plant is used to growing in poor soils, for this reason it does not need abundant fertilization, it is sufficient to fertilize once in spring and once in summer. If the pot starts to be too small for the plant you can repot the plant in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil; it is usually done every 3-4 years. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.
The easiest and fast method of propagation is to use seeds. By seed it is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam and keep it with a high level of humidity and at temperature of 14 C°.
This genus is now grouped, along with Litanthus, Rhodocodon and Schizobasis, into a macrogenus called Drimia.
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