Dierama riparia is a very rare, newly introduced semi-dwarf species from South Africa.
It was originally so rare that it was difficult to confirm the species as the only Dierama monograph just had a photo of a dried herbarium specimen!
Growing to only 90cm (24in) tall, they bear on stalks, so slender that, even on a calm day they seem to be, like mobiles, in continual movement, drooping panicles of numerous, tissue-fine pink-purple flowers. In mid summer each bud expands into a pendant flower hanging above clumps of evergreen, grass-like leaves.
Initially slow to establish Dierama are hardy but prefer a rich, well-drained position and shelter from cold winds. The delightful, bell-like flowers may look delicate, but are actually very tough are excellent for cutting and look particularly good with early autumn-flowering ornamental grasses.
Suitable for use in a gravel garden, or large container or as a specimen plant in the border surrounded by a low-growing groundcover or patio container. Dierama riparia is a very rare and desirable addition to the garden.
Sowing: Sow seeds as soon as possible.
Sow Dierama seeds on the surface of a moist, well drained seed sowing mix (John Innes No 1 or similar) at about 17°C (62°F). They will normally only germinate with light,, so cover with only a light sprinkling of compost or grit to about 5mm deep. Use a translucent cover to allow light in and to keep the compost humid and warm (do not place in direct sunlight). No heat is needed, they can be place in a cold frame or cold greenhouse.
Dierama are often spring germinators but occasionally may be slow and erratic taking between 30 and 180 days. Don’t throw away the pots too soon.
Prick out and grow on seedlings in 7.5cm (3in) pots in a frost-free place, such as a cold greenhouse. Plant out in good garden soil.the following spring. When transplanting be careful not to damage their brittle roots. Plant out from spring, and settle them where they are going to overwinter before the end of August.
Choose an open, sunny position in a fertile, loamy, moist, but well-drained, soil, which doesn’t dry out in summer or become waterlogged in winter. Heavier clay soils and lighter sandy soils should be improved by incorporating well-rotted organic matter.
They can also be planted in containers of fertile, but well-drained, potting media, such as John Innes No.2, but, generally, they grow and flower better when planted in the soil.
Dierama corms are best planted in spring, with the corms 5 to 7cm (2 to 3in) deep. Containerised plants should be planted so that the top of the compost is level with the surrounding soil. Alternatively, Dierama do well in raised beds.
Dieramas need adequate space to look their best. They can be planted in borders or gravel gardens, and look good grown with ornamental grasses. They are attractive near water, but careful positioning is necessary as the corms must not get too wet over winter. Dierama prefer to be on the dry side overwinter, but if too dry the tops may die off entirely.
Water well in dry summers and apply a general purpose fertiliser such as blood, fish and bone or Growmore in spring. Dieramas need very little pruning as they are semi-evergreen. However, old, unsightly foliage can be cut away; this is usually done in spring. Plants may be divided in early spring or immediately after flowering; but this should only be undertaken occasionally as plants are slow to re-establish.
Not overly hardy, the plants withstand light frosts but is not likely to respond well to soil temperatures below minus 5°C (23°F) and protection in the form of a thick mulch of fleece should be given in very cold areas.
Once established these plants soon form a lovely dense clump. They will tolerate quite a bit of crowding in the garden but eventually, perhaps once every five years, they may get overcrowded, indicated by a decreasing amount of flowers.
When this occurs dig up the corms after flowering, divide them into smaller clumps and spread them out. Care must be taken during this process as the roots are very brittle. They will not flower in the year that they have been dug as they resent disturbance.
Separated corms can be used as a gift for ‘green-fingered’ friends, take to the church fete or moved to suitable parts of the garden. Dierama make sensational plants for pots.
Cottage/Informal Garden, Flower Arranging, Flower Borders and Beds. Containers and Pots.
Dierama are native to South Africa and the Drakensberg mountains, usually found in moist, mountainous grassland. The original form of D. pulcherrimum was found in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. It was found to be restricted to the area between the Keiskama and Buffalo Rivers near East London.
Dierama is a genus of 44 species of evergreen, clump forming, summer flowering hardy perennials. All members of the genus have upright narrow leaves and tall wiry arching stems, which carry many pendulous flowers in mid-summer, but they vary in colour, vigour, shape of flowers and timing of flowering.
Plants grow from what botanists call a corm. The corms build up year by year into chains, similar to Crocosmia.
Dierama are in the Iris family – Iridaceae.
Pronounced dye-ur-AY-muh pull-KAIR-ih-mum.
The genus name Dierama comes from the ancient Greek word meaning "funnel" or "like a bell" alluding to the shape of the flowers.
The species name "Pulcherrimum" is Greek and means 'the most beautiful'.
The arching stems and flowers are the base for the most romantic common names, like Angel's Fishing Rod, Wedding Bells, Wand flower, Flowering Grass, Hairbells, Fairybells, African Harebell and Wandflower.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 20 Seeds Seed Form Natural Family Iridaceae Genus Dierama Species riparia Common Name Angel Fishing Rods, Fairybells, Hairbells. Other Common Names Wedding Bells, Wand Flowers, African Harebell and Wandflower. Hardiness Hardy Perennial Hardy Hardy to minus 10°C (14°F) Flowers Tubular, tissue-fine pink-purple flowers Natural Flower Time July to August Height 100 to 120cm (39 to 47in) Spread 30 to 60cm (12 to 24in) Position Prefers full sun Soil Requires rich, well drained soil Germination Between 30 and 180 days