The species Schizostylis has bright red, bowl shaped flowers that look as if they belong in a midsummer border.  This form has smaller flowers with narrow petals that create a star-like effect and feel much more at home in the waning weeks of the year.  It can be a temperamental plant, particularly  in dry soils.  To thrive it needs far more moisture than its South African origins might suggest, so mulch regularly with moisture-retaining compost.  In mild winters a few tenacious flowers will hang on through December, and one year we even had flowers at Christmas.

Schizostylis coccinea  ‘Alba’

Schizostylis coccinea ‘Alba’

As long ago as 1996 botanists decided that  Schizostylis were not a distinct genus and that they should be part of Hesperantha. A lot of nurseries are now moving over to the new name.  I’ve always known them as  Schizostylis and, although it has taken years of practice, I can even spell the word without stopping to think so I will continue calling them  Schizostylis.  Yes, sure I’ll change eventually, but not quite yet.

The plant was also know for decades by a name which is now considered a racial slur in South Africa.  The word has little meaning for northern Europeans like myself but I’ve stopped using it.  Every South African I have ever met, from all races, have been so friendly and welcoming that I wouldn’t want to upset a single one of them.