How to Grow Sparaxis Plants

Guide to Growing Harlequin Flower and Wandflower

Plants of the Sparaxis genus are hardy bulbs that are usually grown as annuals by gardeners as they will not survive being frozen.

Thye are a great plant to grow in Rock gardens, containers, as a Patio plant, or as part of beds and borders.

Sparaxis range in height from 30 to 60 cm (1 to 2 feet) and naturally bloom from middle to late spring (sowing later can result in summer blooms).

Harlequin flower
Sparaxis - Harlequin flower by Aussiegall; Creative Commons.

They have lance shaped leaves, and carry trumpet shaped flowers on spikes.

the Sparaxis flowers may be of pink, purple, red, orange or white. Some common names for Sparaxis plants include Harlequin Flower and Wandflower.

Sparaxis Species

Sparaxis tricolor – Harlequin flower

 Sparaxis tricolor
Sparaxis tricolor by Vahe Martirosyan, CC.

Plants have an upright nature with a tuft of linear to lanceolate leaves. The leaves reach about 30 cm (one foot) in length.

The wiry flowering stems of Sparaxis tricolor reach up to 45 cm (18 inches) in height. Plants typically have a spread of 10 to 13 cm (4 to 5 inches).

Best grown in full sunlight, this species blooms in numerous colors including red, yellow, orange, lavender, and white. The center of the flower has a yellow and black throat.

Sparaxis elegans - Cape buttercup

Sparaxis elegans
Sparaxis elegans by FarOutFlora, CC.

Noted for its attractive spiring anthers. This plant is native to the Greater Cape region of southern Africa.

Sparaxis elegans ranges from 10 to 30 cm in height. It has five to nine lance shaped leaves in a fan.

Stems are simple and carry a spike of three to five flowers. These flowers are usually orange, salmon, or white, with a purplish center.

Sparaxis grandiflora

 Sparaxis grandiflora
Sparaxis grandiflora, white fimbriata Kirstenbosch subspecies by Andrew massyn, CC.

Sparaxis grandiflora carries attractive plum-colored flowers in its natural form, but white flowers are also common in garden varieties. It is typically a little shorter than other members of the genus, reaching about 25 cm (10 inches) in height.

It is an upright plant that carries ten lanceolate light green leaves, reaching 6 to 20 cm (2 to 8 inches) in length.

Plants bloom in the late spring with clusters of plum or white unscented flowers.

Common Gardener's Sparaxis Questions

How tall are Sparaxis?

Commonly grown garden species are typically about 25 to 30 cm (10 to 12 inches) tall.

When do these plants bloom?

These plants grow vegetably in the winter and bloom in the spring. In their natural habitat species such as Sparaxis elegans may begin to flower towards the end of winter.

If you are growing as an annual, then a late spring and early summer bloom is likely.

How do you Propagate and Grow from Seed?

It is best to propagate under glass or in a cold-frame. Ideally sow into containers containing a loam, sand, and leaf mold mix in the autumn.

Grow until corms have developed (typically by the following autumn) and then transfer to their final location.

When should I plant Sparaxis bulbs?

The bulbs can be planted in spring or in late autumn. Space them at about 10 cm (4 inches) apart and at a depth of around 8 cm (3 inches); can be planted deeper in cooler areas to help prevent against frost (to a maximum depth of about 20 cm, 8 inches).

How do you Care for Sparaxis?

This is an easy to care for low maintenance plant. Occasional light watering during its growing period. Once blooming has completed remove the flower stems and allow the foliage to decay naturally, no need to water at this stage.

If growing as an annual then plants can be pulled up and replaced with something else.

Sparaxis Plant Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Harlequin Flower, Wandflower, Spogfluweeltjie, Sparaxis.
Growing Region: Zones 3 to 10. As a perennial in zones 8 to 10. UK zone H2.
Family: Iridaceae. Genus contains 15 species.
Life Cycle: Half hardy bulb commonly grown as a half hardy annual by gardeners.

Height: 10 to 24 inches (25 to 60 cm).
Native: Southern Africa.
Flowers: Spring or summer.
Flower Details: Red, yellow, cream, purple, pink; often multicoloured. Bell-shaped. Sometimes fragrant.
Foliage: Upright-blade. Narrow. Linear-lanceolate.

Sow Outside: Spacing 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm).
Seed: Cover seed. Start of spring or autumn.
Bulb: 3 inches (75 mm). Bottom layer of sand. As an annual: plant in spring, will flower in summer. As a perennial in warm areas: plant in autumn, will flower in spring.
Sow Inside: Germination time: one to three months. Temperature 50°F (10°C). Two months in advance. Transplant outdoors following the last frost in cool areas, or at the beginning of autumn in warm areas.

Requirements: Full sunlight. Soil pH 7 to 8.5. Can survive in dry soils; good drainage is essential. Provide support as the stems are thin. In the spring supply a top dressing of cow manure. Regular feed. Regular watering. If growing as a perennial bring bulbs indoors in cool areas in the autumn. Propagate: use offsets.
Further References: Pacific Bulb Society and NC Plant toolbox.

How to Grow Harlequin Flower and other Sparaxis Plant Species

Learn how to grow Harlequin flower (Sparaxis)

Harlequin Flowers and other Sparaxis plants can be grown from outdoors from bulbs or seeds.

Sparaxis bulbs should be planted with a little sand about 7 or 8 cm (3 inches) deep in the spring (summer blooms) or autumn (spring blooms)

Sparaxis seeds should be sown in either early autumn or early spring and lightly covered once sown.

Sparaxis by Hans s.

Ideally Harlequin flowers and related species should be grown in a sunny part of the garden that has a neutral or alkaline dry soil.

When starting off indoors sow Sparaxis seeds about 10 weeks in advance.

They should take about one to three months to germinate at 10 to 12 degrees centigrade (50 to 54°F).

Transplant the young Sparaxis seedlings outdoors following the last frost of spring with a spacing of about 10 cm (4 inches).

Caring for Harlequin Flower and Wandflower - Sparaxis

It is easy to care for Sparaxis plant species such as Harlequin flower and Wandflowers. In the spring tome they should be supplied with a top dressing of cow manure.

When in their growing period provide a regular watering and fertilizing.

If grown in an exposed area it may be a good idea to supply a light stake for the Sparaxis plants.

If you require more plants then Sparaxis can be propagated by planting the offsets.

Further FAQs about the Sparaxis Plant Genus

How many members does the Sparaxis genus have?

The Sparaxis genus, commonly known as Harlequin Flower, comprises about 13 species.

Do members of Sparaxis make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Yes, Sparaxis are well-loved for their vibrant, star-shaped flowers and make attractive additions to gardens or borders.

Which Sparaxis species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

The most commonly grown species is Sparaxis tricolor, also known as Harlequin Flower.

Are members of the Sparaxis plant genus fragrant?

While not typically fragrant, Sparaxis are cherished for their colorful and visually striking flowers.

What is the perfect location to grow Sparaxis?

Sparaxis prefer a sunny location with well-drained soil. They're great for borders, containers, and rock gardens.

Is Sparaxis invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Currently, Sparaxis is not listed as invasive in the USA. As always, refer to local guidelines for the most accurate information.

Question 7: How do I remove Sparaxis plants from my garden?

To remove Sparaxis plants from your garden, carefully dig out the corms (bulb-like structures) using a garden fork or spade. Dispose of the corms properly to prevent regrowth.


The Sparaxis genus includes bulbous perennials native to South Africa. They are recognized for their brightly colored, star-shaped flowers that bloom in spring, providing a vibrant display.

Plant Sparaxis bulbs in autumn in a sunny location with well-drained soil. They require moderate watering, particularly during their growing period. As they are not frost-tolerant, in colder regions the bulbs should be lifted and stored indoors over winter.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Sparaxis plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Lapeirousia and Tritonia plants.