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Bulbine frutescens is a species of flowering plant in the genus Bulbine. Its common names are Yellow bulbine, Snake flower, Cat’s tail, Burn jelly plant.

Orange bulbine flowers.

Orange bulbine flowers.

It is one of my favorite plants to use as a border in a high traffic sunny spot and gardens where children play. It is originally from South Africa and doesn’t mind our hot Houston summers and did just fine through are cold weather with temps dipping down to 18 degrees. The word Bulbine comes from the Latin word bulbus; meaning bulb, onion or edible bulb. This is misleading because the plants don’t have a bulbous base. It is a clumping form evergreen perennial succulent with long narrow juicy leaves. It stays about 18 inches high and spreads up to 2 feet. Bulbine thrives in full sun to light shade. The flowers come in orange and yellow blooming on tall spike or stalk that dance above the foliage. It is suited for gardens in USDA Zones 9-11.


Bulbine starts blooming in early spring and continues on through autumn although it can go a bit dormant during the heat of summer. It is easy to propagate from stem/leaf cuttings by putting them in a pot of damp soil and set it in a shady area until it grows strong root and then plant it back into a sunny spot or share with a friend. You can also dig it up and divide the root ball. The plants will self-seed (although not the popular orange ‘Hallmark’ cultivar, since it is sterile). Deadheading will encourage the plants to produce more flowers, but it is not necessary. Bulbine are prolific bloomers

Bees on bulbine in our holding area.

Bee on bulbine in our holding area.

Bulbine is great for attracting bees, butterflies and birds. It is very drought tolerant and suitable for xeriscaping. It does want regular water but doesn’t like to be over watered. And it also does just fine in a container.

Bulbine soft juicy leaves that won't bother walkers when they brush up against them.

Bulbines soft juicy leaves won’t bother walkers when they brush up against them.

They have long juicy leaves. And the juice of the leaves, much like aloe, is said to help sooth rashes, scrapes, insect bites burns, blisters, cracked lips and areas of cracked skin. This makes it a great little first-aid plant. In my research I found that in its native habitat the indigenous people make an infusion of a few fresh leaves by boiling it with water. They strained drink is taken for coughs, colds and arthritis.

Yellow bulbine flowers.

Yellow bulbine flowers.

Happy Gardening!