Eazy Gardening

Bulbine Frutescens: The Low-Maintenance Plant with Healing Properties

Bulbine frutescens, commonly known as Orange Bulbine, Stalked Bulbine, and Burn Jelly Plant, is a flowering plant species that belongs to the Asphodelaceae family. This plant is native to Southern Africa and is extensively grown in many other parts of the world due to its attractive yellow or orange flowers and medicinal uses.

Overview of the plant

Bulbine frutescens is a herbaceous succulent plant that has a clumping habit. It can grow up to 80cm high and wide, producing fleshy long leaves that arch and fall gracefully.

The leaves are usually light green, which can turn red or yellow when exposed to the sun for extended periods. The plant’s flowers consist of clusters of yellow or orange tubular-shaped flowers on the end of long stems.

These flowers are usually in bloom from late winter until late spring, providing a long flowering period for the garden.


Bulbine frutescens is a tough and resilient plant that is resistant to pests and tolerant of drought and high temperatures. This plant produces a sticky yellowish gel when the leaves are cut, giving rise to the common name of ‘Burn Jelly Plant.’ The gel produced is rich in polysaccharides that possess wound-healing properties, making it useful for treating rashes, burns, and other skin irritations.

In terms of benefits to wildlife, the plant attracts pollinators such as bees and butterflies, and its leaves serve as a food source for some species of wildlife.

Plant cultivation and care

Bulbine frutescens is an easy-to-grow plant that is ideal for beginners and experienced gardeners alike. The following are essential care and cultivation tips for growing this plant successfully.

Preferred Growing conditions

Bulbine frutescens thrives in full sunlight and prefers well-draining soil and growing containers. When planting this shrub, ensure to choose a well-draining location with the right soil pH between 6.0 and 7.5. During the growing season, the plant should be watered regularly and ensure that the soil is not waterlogged.

Excessive watering may cause root rot, resulting in stunted growth and possibly death. A yearly application of fertilizer at the beginning of spring can help enhance its overall growth and the quantity of flowers that it produces.

Moreover, this plant can propagate via divisions and offsets, making it an excellent candidate for multiplying.

Potential pest and disease issues

Bulbine frutescens is generally resistant to many pests and diseases. Nevertheless, scale insects, spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs are the primary pests that can damage the plant.

Symptoms of pest invasion may include pests tapping the sap from the foliage, discoloration, and deformation of the leaves. Immediate treatment with insecticides will help suppress the problem.

Planting and maintenance tips

When planting Bulbine frutescens, ensure that the hole in which you plant the potted plant is slightly larger than the container size. Loose soil enhances drainage, making it beneficial for this succulent.

After planting, gently firm the soil down and ensure there is no air between the roots and soil. Like many other plants, this plant requires some pruning to keep it in shape and encourage a more compact and attractive growth.


In conclusion, Bulbine frutescens is an excellent and low-maintenance plant that is tolerant of drought, pests, and disease. Its unique features such as its wound-healing properties and attractive flowers and leaves make it a significant addition to any garden.

With the proper planting and care instructions, you can successfully incorporate the Orange Bulbine plant in your home garden, adding value to your space.

3) Plant Propagation Methods

Bulbine frutescens can be propagated through both sexual and asexual reproduction methods.

Sexual Reproduction

The plant can be grown from seeds, which it naturally produces after flowering. The seeds take about a week to germinate, and they should be planted in a well-draining potting mix.

The seeds should be sown just under the surface of the soil to ensure that they receive enough moisture to germinate. Seedlings are sensitive and should be kept in a warm and humid environment until they are well established.

Asexual Reproduction

Bulbine frutescens can also be reproduced through asexual or vegetative methods. This method of propagation involves taking a stem, leaf, or root cutting from the original plant and planting it in a suitable environment.

The cutting should be dipped in rooting hormone before being planted in well-draining soil. Additionally, Bulbine frutescens plants also produce offsets.

Offsets grow at the base of the plant and can be removed and planted in a suitable location. Once planted, they will continue to develop and grow into independent plants.

4) Plant Adaptations to Different Environments

Bulbine frutescens is a hardy plant that can adapt to multiple environments. The plant is well suited to dry and arid regions and thrives in hot and humid conditions.

Its adaptations include:

Drought Tolerance

The plant is well adapted to drought conditions and is thus ideal for regions with minimal rainfall. Its leaves have an anatomy that facilitates water conservation by reducing transpiration.

Moreover, its roots can penetrate deeper into the soil, enabling it to access water that other plants cannot.

Heat Tolerance

Bulbine frutescens is capable of withstanding high temperatures. The plant’s succulent nature enables it to store water in its leaves, stems, and roots, minimizing the amount of water lost through transpiration.

Furthermore, the plant’s leaves are covered in a waxy cuticle that minimizes the plant’s water loss through evaporation.

Adaptation to Light

Bulbine frutescens is well-suited to light-enhanced conditions, growing optimally in full sunlight. The plant is photophilous, meaning that it requires an ample amount of light for optimal growth and development.

The leaves have modified anatomy that enables them to capture and utilize light optimally.

Adaptation to Soil

Bulbine frutescens can thrive in various soil types, but it prefers well-draining soils. It adapts to soil by producing extensive root systems, enabling it to access soil nutrients and water.

In addition, the plant’s leaves are capable of absorbing nutrients and water through their epidermis and utilizing them for growth and physiological processes.

Adaptation to Ecosystems

Bulbine frutescens’s status as a host plant means that it provides an environment for wildlife to thrive in. The plant’s flowers make it an excellent source of nectar for insects, specifically bees and butterflies.

The leaves and stems are consumed by some herbivorous animals, including deer and rabbits. Moreover, Burn Jelly Plant is known to have numerous medicinal properties that have traditionally been used by various cultures.

The plant extracts have been found to possess wound-healing properties and have been used to treat indigestion and respiratory infections. Overall, Bulbine frutescens is a versatile plant capable of adapting to various environmental conditions.

Its numerous adaptations enable it to survive and thrive in diverse ecosystems, making it an ideal candidate for gardens and horticultural environments.

5) Usage of the Plant in Indoor Setting

Bulbine frutescens can be grown both indoors and outdoors in a wide range of climates. When grown indoors, the plant is generally kept as a houseplant as it can help improve the air quality in homes.

It is a low-maintenance plant and can be grown in various pots and planters, including hanging baskets. Indoor Bulbine frutescens plants thrive best in bright light, so it is important to position them in a spot that receives sufficient sunlight.

They grow well in average room temperatures between 65 and 75F (18-24C) and can tolerate slightly cooler temperatures during the night. The soil should be kept moderately moist, but not waterlogged.

It is best to provide a deeper watering once a week compared to frequent, shallow watering. In addition, the plant may become leggy if grown in low light conditions.

Therefore, it needs to be positioned in an area where it receives at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. Moreover, Bulbine frutescens responds well to fertilizers and can improve its growth when fed a liquid fertilizer once every month or two during the growing season.

6) Usage of the Plant in Outdoor Setting

Bulbine frutescens is an excellent choice for outdoor gardening, including in rock gardens, borders and as ground covers. It is a low-maintenance plant that requires occasional pruning to keep it in shape and to encourage a bushy growth habit.

It is important to note that the plant grows well in pots and other containers, making it perfect for patios and balconies. When grown outdoors, it should be planted in a well-draining location with a pH range of 6-7.5. The ideal location is where it can receive direct sunlight for at least six hours a day.

The plant requires watering to keep the soil moist without overwatering, which can cause problems such as root rot. It is essential to water the plant deeply once a week rather than frequent shallow watering.

This plant is relatively resistant to most pests, including rabbits and deer, making it ideal for outdoor growing. However, it is necessary to watch out for spider mites, aphids, mealybugs, and scale insects, which can cause damage to the plant, especially in warm and dry weather.

Insecticidal soaps or neem oil can be used to control infestations. In warm climates, where the plant grows as a perennial, it should be pruned annually to maintain its shape and to remove any dead or damaged growth.

Pruning encourages branching and should be carried out in early spring or after flowering. Bulbine frutescens pairs well with other plants such as succulents, agave, and cactus.

Additionally, the plant is often used in garden designs to create color contrasts and enhance soil erosion control over a slope or embankment. Overall, Bulbine frutescens is a versatile plant that can thrive both indoors and outdoors.

It requires minimal maintenance and can add color and texture to any garden or indoor space while also providing potential wound-healing properties. 7) Toxicity of the Plant to Pets and Horses, Humans

Bulbine frutescens is a non-toxic plant to humans.

The gel obtained from the plant is known to possess wound-healing properties and has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat cuts, burns, and other skin irritations. It is important to note that the plant should still be handled with care, and the sap should not be ingested.

However, Bulbine frutescens can be toxic to pets and horses if ingested in large quantities. The plant contains anthraquinones, which are toxic if ingested in large doses.

Symptoms of poisoning in pets may include vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. Additionally, the plant’s gel may cause skin irritation in some animals, leading to rashes and itching.

Therefore, it is advised to keep pets and horses away from Bulbine frutescens and to seek veterinary attention immediately if any poisoning symptoms are observed. While the plant is not considered highly toxic, it is best to err on the side of caution when it comes to the health of pets and horses.

In conclusion, Bulbine frutescens is an excellent choice for both indoor and outdoor settings. It is a low-maintenance plant that is well-suited to arid and dry regions and is known for its wound-healing properties.

However, it is important to take note of its toxicity to pets and horses and to handle the plant with care. In summary, Bulbine frutescens, or Orange Bulbine, is a versatile and low-maintenance plant that is well-suited to both indoor and outdoor settings.

It produces attractive flowers and can provide wound-healing properties. While it is non-toxic to humans, it can be toxic to pets and horses if ingested in large quantities.

The plant has numerous adaptations that enable it to thrive in diverse ecosystems. It is a good candidate for gardens, horticultural environments, and can improve air quality in indoor spaces.

Here are some frequently asked questions about Bulbine frutescens:


1. Is Bulbine frutescens toxic to humans?

No, but the sap should not be ingested. 2.

Can Bulbine frutescens be grown indoors?

Yes, it can be grown indoors but should be positioned in a spot that receives sufficient sunlight.

3. How do I propagate Bulbine frutescens?

The plant can be propagated through seeds, cuttings, and offsets. 4.

What is the ideal growing conditions for Bulbine frutescens?

The plant thrives in full sunlight, well-draining soil, and prefers moderate watering.

5. Is it safe to grow Bulbine frutescens around pets and horses?

The plant can be toxic to pets and horses if ingested in large quantities, so it is best to keep them away from it.

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