Ferraria crispa, Ferraria undulata, Starfish lily, 20 fresh seeds
Ferraria crispa Burm. (Synonym F. undulata) is widespread but mostly coastal, found on sandstone or granite rocks from Namaqualand and the northwest Cape to the southwest Cape, the southern Cape and the Little Karoo. It has sword shaped leaves with a prominent midrib and a much-branched inflorescence with flowers that can be dark brown, maroon, almost black, cream, or pale yellow, with a variety of stripes, blotches, and speckles. A distinguishing characteristic is the brownish-green crisped margins. Many forms have an unpleasant odour.
Hardy in USDA zones 9 through 11, starfish iris sprouts sword-shaped leaves in autumn, grows throughout winter, and blooms in late winter or early spring (from late February through early April in Malta), before dropping into dormancy over summer. Its six-petal blooms, generally about 1 1/2 inches wide, resemble polka-dotted and frilly starfishes.
They flower on sunny days, and each bloom lasts for only one day. Some starfish irises smell sweet, like vanilla, while others attract pollinating flies with the odour of carrion.
For the sowing, use a fast-draining medium such as a combination of seed-starting mix or cocopeat and sand or perlite, and press the seeds into the surface of that medium rather than covering them. Ferraria reportedly germinates best when daytime temperatures are about 70 degrees Fahrenheit (20-22°C) daytime and nighttime around 50 F. (10°C), though the seeds may take three to six weeks to sprout. For the best results, start your seedlings in autumn and allow them to go dormant from mid-July to mid-October each year. Cut off watering during the summer month competely.
Seed grown Ferraria crispa will flower after as soon as 2-4 years after sowing.
When grown in pots, some selections of F. crispa can multiply rapidly. The offsets remain attached to the parent corm. If left undisturbed for several years, the corms will form bizarre connected piles (below). These corms can all be separated to form new plants, but beware -- it can be very difficult to tell which side is up after the corms are separated. When in doubt, plant them sideways.