Ammocharis Longifolia, commonly known as the Malgas lily, is an enchanting flower to grow. Belonging to the Amaryllis family, these deciduous plants are renowned as one of the most eye-catching South African bulbs.
In summer, the Malgas lily blooms with creamy white flowers atop their short stems. These petals undergo a breathtaking transformation, developing a pink hue in the blooming period. Flowers are replaced by vibrant foliage during winter. Due to their low maintenance and spectacular appearance, they are considered one of the most rewarding drought-resistant flowers.
What are Ammocharis Longifolia
The common name Malgas lily refers to the Malgas area near the Breede River in the Western Cape of South Africa, where it grows in abundance. It is ethereal to witness their blooms en masse in the wild as rows of vibrant hemispherical flowers burst from the ground.
As the blooming period ends, these flowers transform into tumbleweeds that are carried by the wind for seed dispersal. This fascinating life cycle makes growing these African flowers incredibly rewarding, adding excitement to any indoor or outdoor space.
Benefits of Growing Ammocharis Longifolia
In bloom, flowers of the Ammocharis Longifolia produce a pleasant frangipani-like scent that calms the space they occupy. As it matures, this beauty can be passed along to family and friends as it may produce smaller bulbs or offsets that can be used to propagate more plants over time.
Due to their origins in the South African climate, they require very little water, making them one of the most ideal drought-tolerant flowering plants. Australia can experience huge temperature changes between seasons that Malgas lilies are resilient against.
How to Grow Ammocharis Longifolia
The process of caring for Ammocharis Longifolia can be filled with proud moments. They are a beautiful and rare plant that can foster a sense of achievement for those who care for them.
Malgas lilies prefer a dry summer and are found close to seasonal streams in the wild. As geophytes, a plant characterised by their underground food storage bulb, they can withstand seasonal droughts and low temperatures. Due to their hardiness, your main concern should be to protect the plant from frost or very strong afternoon sun, as Ammocharis Longifolia can thrive almost anywhere in Australia.
Ammocharis Longifolia can grow 50–70 cm wide and 30–40 cm tall, carrying up to 20 flowers each. At maturity, their bulbs can grow a 60 mm long neck with a diameter of about 100–150 mm. During winter, they may have shorter leaves and appear compact compared to their appearance in the active growing and blooming seasons.
Best Soil For Growth
As they naturally grow on gravelly river flats, Malgas lilies prefer well-drained soil where they are less susceptible to rot. This extremely tough bulb can cope with wet conditions as long as the soil has good drainage.
If growing in a pot, opt for one with drainage holes and select or custom blend a potting medium that will facilitate drainage. A potting medium with roughly one part fine sand, one part potting soil and one part coarse sand is a good example. You can add a layer of raw compost mixed with potassium fertiliser at the bottom of the pot to provide nutrients in the initial growing stages.
Planting From Bulbs and Seeds
Whether planting from established bulbs or seeds, this plant should always be placed in a sunny position where it can benefit from lots of light.
You can grow Ammocharis Longifolia from seeds as long as you ensure the seedlings are kept moist initially. This process will require patience, as it can take up to seven years until a plant grown from a seed will produce a fragrant flower.
Another option is to grow the plant from an established bulb. When planting, you should ensure the neck of the bulb is planted a little above soil level.
It is possible to propagate mature plants by separating bulbs that multiply under the ground or cutting away a small section of the bulb base where roots form. Propagation is best done just before the leaves appear in winter.
When is the Best Time to Plant in Australia?
The ideal time to plant is between late winter and early spring. This will ensure bulbs can establish their roots and begin active growth during the warmer months to align with the plant’s natural growth cycle. It will also mitigate the risk of frost affecting growth.
Ammocharis Longifolia Plant Care
Like many South African bulbs, these plants require little care after being established. It is important to only water sparingly by allowing the soil to go dry between each session. Watering should be reduced when it enters dormancy between the blooming and growing periods.
Look for signs of yellowing foliage and a slowing rate of growth for new leaves to indicate the end of the growing season, as the plant begins to conserve energy and prepare for its rest period. After blooming, you can help encourage energy to be redirected back to the bulb by deadheading spent flowers.
Get Your Ammocharis Longifolia with Garden Express
Growing a Malgas lily is an incredibly rewarding experience that provides a great sense of achievement. From dormancy to its breathtaking blooming period, the seasonal lifecycle of this spectacular plant is worth witnessing. Browse Garden Express’s release of our signature series of Ammocharis Longifolia to discover this beautiful plant and other rare South African bulbs today.