August 22nd, 2014
Rhodophiala bifida Bulbs

Rhodophiala bifida bulbs with offsets
2014-08-22. Rhodophiala bifida bulbs. On the left, the offset has formed a new, small bulb. On the right, the offset growth (looking like a large root) is just beginning to grow up toward the surface.

Oxblood lilies in Central Texas are generally propagated by bulb division. The way the bulbs form is somewhat different than garlic, daffodils, tulips, or lilies. As far as I can tell, they send out these fleshy growth that look like thick roots and those form the new bulbs on the outside of the mother bulb.

Whether the various types of Rhodophiala produce via bulbs or seeds is suppose to be one way of distinguishing them from each other. The bulbs in my garden do both but I can’t say for certain that the same bulb does both. Oxblood lilies are classic pass-around plant in Central Texas and so my collection is quite a mixed bag.

I do have some clumps that offset like crazy. I have others that offset steadily but more slowly. This time of year they are waiting to come out of their dormancy, preparing for that rain which will force them into bloom. Even in the dry heat and parched ground, you can see the occasional bud waiting to poke up. This one dug up provides an illustration of how the buds grow on the outside of the previous year’s leaf stem.

Rhodophiala bifida bulb: the flower bud is forming on the outside of the stem.

by M Sinclair Stevens

3 Responses to post “Rhodophiala bifida Bulbs”

  1. From Jenny austin:

    From Jenny austin:
    August 23rd, 2014
    And how grateful I am that you shared your bulbs many years ago. They are something I really look forward to in the fall. Thank you again.

  2. From Annie in Austin:

    Ditto! I bought a few bulbs after we moved into this house, but they never increased.

    The bulbs you shared, on the other hand, have made nice little patches wherever I planted them. Maybe I’ll go out to see if any Rhodophiala bulbs were goofy enough to poke their noses out – it’s so dreadfully hot & dry in Austin today.


  3. From M Sinclair Stevens:

    I’m glad y’all’s bulbs still thrive. They do need to be divided from time to time, not only because they crowd each other out, but because our soil is so poor.

    I’ve neglected my oxblood lilies for four years and everywhere I dig the ground is parched clay with no humus left in it (despite my having amended the soil with lots of compost when planting the bulbs). In my garden, it’s the fault of the trees, their roots everywhere, sucking up the goodness, competing with the bulbs.
    Of course, it’s a bit difficult to keep up with a rotation schedule. Currently I’m digging up bulbs planted in 2003. They are overcrowded and thus small; I don’t think many are of a size to flower any more.

    If Austin gets rain next week (as it often does), then I think we’ll have a good showing of flowers. The oxblood lilies are ready! However, if we have one of those odd years when September is also hot and the rains don’t come until it’s almost October, then the buds simply dry out.

    A couple of dry Septembers lately, I’ve gone ahead and forced them, but watering clumps where I can see the buds nosing up.