ASK JOHN NEGUS
Coral drops, using manure, amazing monster, curious snails
QI have bought some bulbs of Bessera elegans. Please could you tell me how I should grow them? Mr R Brierley, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands
ACommonly called coral drops, Bessera elegans is a corm-forming native of Mexico, where it colonises rocky slopes, grassland and scrub.
Unless your garden is frost-free, grow it at the base of a warm south-facing wall or in a greenhouse or conservatory.
Ideally, set the corm in a pot of loam-based John Innes No2 compost and position it in good light. Water moderately when growth is robust, but keep the compost dry when the leaves die back and also in winter.
This plant is easily propagated by removing and potting up the bulb offsets in autumn and winter.
With luck, your plants should bear umbels of up to nine vivid scarlet flowers, creamy-white within, from late summer through the autumn.
Coral drops originates from Mexico, but flowers well in sheltered spots in the UK