March 22, 2009

Getting the Biggest Bang for Your Buck with Bulbine

Bulbine is an African native that naturalizes in Texas. So far as I know it does not become invasive in Central Texas, probably because of our dry summers. I've heard many rave reviews of the plants from several different sources, and it really is pretty. It has onion-like leaves, and it sends out stalks of orange/yellow flowers. It's drought tolerant and loves the heat. The best part is that this thing is just flat-out tough and is easily propagated.

I bought this puppy for $16:

Just look at it bulging at the seams:
Pulling it out revealed a massive root system:
After some drastic pulling and cutting, I managed to pull out 30-40 plants. I wasn't gentle.

This plot has been screaming for a border plant to visually show there is a real path:

You can see purple heart, lamb's ear, and blackberry bushes. The purple heart and lamb's ear were planted last year, and the blackberry bushes are new additions, hence, their smallish size.

I mulched the whole thing on purpose. I want a natural, summer-camp kind of feel where it's a maintained, informal path but doesn't scream HEY-PEOPLE-ON-THE-STREET-COME-TO-MY-BACKYARD that a formal path might do. Because of the height of the house and the relatively large width of the path, bulbine would work perfectly because it gets to 18" tall, is very dense, and doesn't need a lot of watering/fuss. I don't want side plots that need a lot of tending.

After planting, here's what the plot now looks like:It'll soon fill in, and I plan on planting some ruby queen corn up against the house which should look very pretty against the pale background and with the plants already there. Plus I don't have loads of room for corn, so I'm making places for it to grow...

1 plant marked off my wish list.


  1. That should work out great once they become
    established and what a great bargain from just
    one plant.

  2. WoW! You did make a bargain out of it, that's great. I did that with my Sedum Linda Windsor. It was such a nice big tall thick plant I made 4 our out it. I was just so pleased with me! ;-) Is that what Purple Heart does in Texas? That is gorgeous. I have one in a pot and have to bring it in every winter where it isn't so pretty inside but worth it come summer and it starts showing off. Your garden is beautiful.

  3. It looks great! And what a bargain! I have never heard of this plant. Will it stay green in the winter?

  4. Cathy - One of the better bargains I've found. :)

    RainGardener - That's what purple heart does with a bit of sun and a huge root system. It'll clump up and bush out. It'll lose the dark purple color and get mottled, but I think it looks so unusual that I leave it. I have purple heart in shadier parts and it stays low to the ground and keeps that dark purple color. I've done just about everything to purple heart, and it can take tons of abuse. It's a trooper around here.

    Ginger - Yep, it's supposed to be evergreen through the winters here, so it'll keep the purple heart and lamb's ear company when the blackberries drop their leaves.

  5. I can see I'm not the only one who does this--look for, purchase and divide one plant into many. I love the green foliage.


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