Handsome foliage is reason enough to grow this South African native. Each bulb produces a fountainlike rosette of wavy-edged, glossy, green leaves to 1 ft. long, 3 in. wide. In winter or early spring, brown-mottled flower stems to about 1 ft. high are topped by elongated clusters of tubular, drooping, pinkish purple flowers with petals tipped in green. Leaves turn yellow and die back in late spring; new growth resumes in fall. Most plants sold as V. capensis are actually V. bracteata; the true V. capensis has nonglossy, blue-green leaves and green-tipped, pale pink flowers. It is also not as hardy and prefers full sun.
In frostless areas, it can be grown in the ground, but even there it is usually grown in pots. For each bulb, use a pot large enough to allow about 3 in. between all sides of bulb and container edges. Plant in fall, in fast-draining soil; set top of bulb neck just above soil surface. Fertilize every two weeks throughout the growing season. Keep soil dry during summer dormancy. Can remain outdoors where temperatures stay above 25F; where light frosts are possible, give overhead protection.