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Sparaxis also known as Harlequin Flower or Wand Flower is a bulb flower which is perennial and produces a stalk of five star-shaped, brightly coloured flowers. This variety of bulb plants was first found in South Africa. It has flowers in different shades of white, yellow, orange, red, lavender and purple decorated with a bright yellow throat and black outline, hence it has the common name Harlequin Flower. Late spring or early summer is the flowering season of these plants. It has sword shaped leaves and flowers arise on wiry stalks. The leaves perish soon after flowering.

• Native to South Africa
• Sparaxis grows up to 6-12 inches tall (15-30 cm) and 3-5 inches wide (7-12 cm).
• It is perennial in nature.
• Harlequin requires sunlight and water so keep it in full sun and water regularly.
• It requires only very less amount of fertilizer.
• Sparaxis plants are good choice for Mediterranean climate. It is appropriate for rock gardens and for pot cultivation.
• Fresh cut flower is an important characteristic of this plants.
• This plant is easy to maintain and adapts easily.
• Highly disease and pest resistant.

Sparaxis is a genus and has fifteen species under the Iridaceae family. These varieties grow well in the Mediterranean climates and have got different colourful hybrids. Bright coloured star-shaped flowers are the most attractive thing about sparaxis. If more than one sparaxis species is grown together, cross pollination may take place resulting in flowers with different colour combinations. Even though these plants are highly disease resistant sometimes virus affects them and cause colour fading in flowers.

DIFFERENT SPECIES OF SPARAXIS

1. Sparaxis tricolor
Common Name : Harlequin Flower
Stem height : 12 to 30 cm
Flower : Bilaterally symmetrical/ scented
Colour : Flower – Bi/Tri-coloured (Red)
Throat- Golden/Black
Corms : Conical with tunics of fine fibres
Flowering : September to October
2. Sparaxis grandiflora

Common Name : Grand Satinflower/ Cape Buttercup
Stem height : 8 to 45 cm
Flower : Bilaterally symmetrical/ scented
Colour : Flower - White/ Yellow tinged with Purple
Corms : Spherical with fine fibrous outer coating
Flowering : March to April

3. Sparaxis auriculata
Common Name : Ear Satinflower
Stem height : 15 to 40 cm
Flower : Bilaterally symmetrical flower/ unscented
Colour : Flower - Cream
Dorsal tepal - mauve
Lower tepal - yellow
Throat - grey/purple
Corms : Conical with tunics of medium-textured fibres
Flowering : August

4. Sparaxis bulbifera
Common Name : Airleaf Satinflower
Stem height : 15 to 60 cm
Flower : Tubular flower/ unscented
Colour : Flower - White/Cream
: Throat - Pale Yellow
Corms : Capsules turning from light green to brown on maturation
Flowering : September to December

5. Sparaxis calcicola
Common Name : Limestone Satinflower
Stem height : 12 to 22 cm
Flower : Bilaterally symmetrical/ lemon scented
Colour : Flower - White/Yellow
Dorsal tepal - Creamy White
Lower tepal - Yellow
Corms : Conical with tunics of fine fibres
Flowering : August to September

6. Sparaxis villosa
Common Name : Hairy Satinflower
Stem height : 15 to 35 cm
Flower : Bilaterally symmetrical flower/ unscented
Colour : Flower – Cream/ Yellow
Corms : Coarsely fibrous and thickened tunics
Flowering : August to September

7. Sparaxis caryophyllacea
Common Name : Speckle Satinflower
Stem height : 12 to 30 cm
Flower : Bilaterally symmetrical/ scented
Colour : Flower - Pale Yellow
Dorsal tepal - Violet/ Cream
Lower tepal - Deep Yellow
Throat- Yellow
Corms : Vertical with tunics of hard coarse fibres
Flowering : August to September

8. Sparaxis elegans
Common Name : Elegant Satinflower
Stem height : 10 to 30 cm
Flower : Radially symmetrical/ unscented
Colour : Flower - Salmon orange - Pink /White
Throat- Purple/ Dark Brown
Corms : Round corm with fine fibrous outer coating
Flowering : August to September

9. Sparaxis fragrans
Common Name : Fragrant Wandflower
Stem height : 10 to 25 cm
Flower : Radially symmetrical/ unpleasant scent
Colour : Flower - Yellow
Corms : Barrel shaped seed capsules
Flowering : August to September

10. Sparaxis galeata
Common Name : Hood Satinflower
Stem height : 12 to 20 cm
Flower : Bilaterally symmetrical/ scented
Colour : Flower - Yellow/Purple
Dorsal tepal - Purple
Lower tepal - Deep Yellow
Throat- Yellow/Purple
Corms : Conical with tunics of medium-textured fibres
Flowering : July to September

11. Sparaxis parviflora
Common Name : Tiny Satinflower
Stem height : 12 to 20 cm
Flower : Bilaterally symmetrical/ scented
Colour : Flower - Cream
Lateral tepal – Lemon Yellow
Corms : Conical with tunics of medium-textured fibres
Flowering : August to September

12. Sparaxis variegata
Common Name : Variegated Satinflower
Stem height : 10 to 18 cm
Flower : Bilaterally symmetrical/ scented
Colour : Flower - Cream/Purple
Dorsal tepal - Purple
Lower tepal - Cream
Throat- Yellow/Purple
Corms : Coarsely fibrous corm tunics
Flowering : August to September

13. Sparaxis maculosa
Common Name : Darkcentre Satinflower
Stem height : 10 to 20 cm
Flower : Radially symmetrical/ unscented
Colour : Flower - Yellow
Throat- Dark Maroon
Corms : Spherical with dense white fibres
Flowering : September

14. Sparaxis pillansii
Common Name : Twisted Satinflower
Stem height : 25 to 44 cm
Flower : Radially symmetrical flower/ unscented
Colour : Flower - Rose Pink
Center- Yellow & Dark Purple Red
Corms : Tunics with fine fibres
Flowering : September to October

15. Sparaxis roxburghii
Common Name : Collar Satinflower
Stem height : 28 to 45 cm
Flower : Bilaterally symmetrical flower/ unscented
Colour : Flower - Mauve/Yellow
Throat- Yellow
Corms : Finely fibrous corm tunics
Flowering : August to September

SPARAXIS FLOWER GARDENING

Sparaxis flowers in spring at lower temperatures. These plants are tender to frost unlike some other bulb plants. Thus, Mediterranean climates with low frost are the most favorable condition for the outdoor cultivation of these plants. Even though these flowers are wild flowers found in South Africa, nowadays these are widely used as ornamental plants in other places too. Under ideal growth conditions, these plants easily adapt and naturalize.

Harlequin flower bulbs growing outside South Africa is limited in number. Gardeners must pay special care while planting these varieties in order to get good results. In USDA zones 9-1, autumn is a good time for planting these plants outdoors. Outside these areas, it is better to grow it initially in pots and can move it to outside when the spring comes. Or you can wait until it is spring to plant the corms. These bulbs should never be planted outside until the winter is over. Plant corms 3 inches deep (7 cm) and 2 inches apart (5 cm) in the autumn (warm winter regions) or in the spring (in cold regions).

Fertile and well-drained lands are suitable for sparaxis varieties, thus choose such planting spots to get good results. Sparaxis plants need ample amount of sunlight so avoid shaded regions and choose places where the plants can get full sun.

Though the plants are generally highly diseases and pests resistant, monitoring for potential issues is a good preventative growing practice. Check the health of the plant in due time and ensure everything is alright.

Once the flowers are dead, remove the spent flowers by deadheading. Leave the foliage to die naturally and undergo dormancy during summer. In cold regions it is better to dig out these bulbs and store safely until next spring to replant it. After the dormancy, the bulb will sprout again and blooms when the season comes. This cycle continues every year.