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Sparaxis tricolor
Sparaxis tricolor

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Zones 9, 12-24
Full Sun
Regular Water

Sparaxis tricolor

Harlequin Flower
Bulbs and bulblike plants, Perennials

This colorful spring bloomer is native to South Africa. It makes a clump of sword-shaped leaves to 1 ft. tall and wide. Blooms over a long period in late spring; 1 1/2-ft.-tall flowering stems bear loose, spike-like clusters of small, funnel-shaped blossoms to 2 in. across. Each flower has a yellow center, a dark color surrounding this, and another color—red, pink, orange, or purple—on the rest of the petals. Looks best when naturalized or grouped as an accent in a border or along a pathway.

Grow in well-drained soil. Where winter lows usually stay above 20°F (–7°C), plant corms in early fall, 2 in. deep and about 3 in. apart. Where temperatures may drop to 10°F (–12°C), plant in late fall, setting corms 4 in. deep; cover planting with mulch. In colder areas, plant in spring for early summer flowers. Let soil go dry when foliage yellows after bloom. Where corms won’t be subject to rainfall or irrigation during dormant period, they can be left undisturbed until the planting becomes crowded or flowering declines. When this occurs, dig corms in summer and store as for gladiolus until the recommended planting time in your area. Where corms will receive summer moisture, dig and store them after foliage dies back; or treat as annuals. Plant potted corms close together and 1 in. deep; after bloom, put the pots where they won’t get summer water.

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