Lachenalia aloides is a perennial bulbous, deciduous, native to southern Africa; there are many species of Lachenalia, but very few are cultivated as ornamental plants. The bulbs, of medium size, are fleshy, and generally produce a pair of large pointed leaves, broad and thick, dark green, sometimes dotted with purple or light green. In the autumn or early winter months each bulb produces some squat, fleshy stems, 10-25 cm high, on which numerous small tubular flowers bloom, yellow, red, orange, blue or greenish. There are also hybrid varieties, with flowers in shades of pink. Very suitable to be cultivated in pots, the lachenalas offer a fairly prolonged flowering, followed by small dark fruits; after producing the fruit the leaves dry up and the bulb goes into vegetative rest.
In places of origin these plants mainly grow in the sun; since in Italy they are grown as apartment plants it is good to keep them in a very bright place, even if it is sunny for a few hours a day. Usually the bulbs are buried in September-October, the containers are kept cool, in a bright place, for example outdoors; when the stems that bear the flowers begin to sprout, the vases are brought into the house; to prolong flowering it is advisable to keep the pots in a not too hot place, at 14-15 ° C.
In September-October, after planting the bulbs, water the soil well; the following watering will be provided when the leaves begin to sprout, then it is watered about once a week, leaving the substratum to dry between one watering and another. When the leaves dry up, after flowering, watering is suspended. Afterwards the bulbs are removed from the soil, separating them from any bulbils, and they are kept in a cool and dark place, to be planted at the end of summer-beginning of autumn.
Use a good specific soil for acidophilic plants, mixed with leaf mold, shredded bark and little sand, to increase drainage. The bulbs must be buried a little deep, leaving them a few centimeters below the surface of the ground.
The lachenalie aloides generally produce numerous bulbils, which can be repotted individually in autumn. It is possible to sow the small fresh seeds, the new plants will flower in two or three years. If desired, it is also possible to propagate the lachenia using leaf cuttings.
Lachenalia aloides: Pests and diseases
Lachenalia aloides is often attacked by the cochineal. It is a parasite that feeds on the sap of plants, rich in sugars. There are many types of cochineal that can affect our plants, but all easily recognizable thanks to the waxy layer of protection they tend to develop on the back. It is possible to defeat cochineal with specific pesticide products or if you do not want to resort to chemical methods you can try removing pests manually with paper or cotton.