Cyrtanthus mackenii is a hardy, evergreen bulbous plant has attractive glossy, dark green, narrow, strap-like leaves.
The flowers of Cyrtanthus mackenii are long and narrow with recurved tips, and the leaves are narrowly lance-shaped. This species consists of two colour varieties: var. mackenii, which has pure white flowers, and var. cooperi, which has yellow or cream-coloured flowers. The flowers of both varieties are sweetly scented and pollinated by night-flying moths.
Adult plants reach about 400 mm high in full flower, and the individual flowers measure up to 50 mm long. C. mackenii has a very long flowering period, depending on the particular form being cultivated.
C. mackenii is certainly one of the easiest species to cultivate. It prefer a lightly shaded position, ideally receiving morning sun and afternoon shade, and like to be planted with the necks of their bulbs slightly exposed above soil level.
It is best planted in a growing medium that contains plenty of well-rotted organic matter, equal parts of finely sifted compost, and coarse river sand or silica sand. The bulbs should be allowed to form large clumps and like to be left undisturbed for at least five years, until clumps become too thick and flowering performance diminishes.
The bulbs require regular heavy watering about once every ten days throughout the year. Pots can be placed on semi-shaded balconies or verandas, and when in flower can be brought indoors where the sweetly-scented blooms can be fully appreciated.
It is a beautiful addition to any garden, and makes a wonderful container plant.
The general rule of thumb for planting spring bulbs is to plant two to three times as deep as the bulbs is tall. This means most large bulbs like tulips or daffodils will be planted about 8 inches deep while smaller bulbs will be planted 3-4 inches deep. Planting depth is measured from the bottom of the bulb.