How to grow dierama (angel’s fishing rod)

Dierama pulcherrimum (angel's fishing rod)

Dieramas are beautiful herbaceous perennials that are also known as angel’s fishing rods or wandflowers, thanks to their delicate, arching stems. These emerge from the evergreen or semi-evergreen grass-like foliage in summer and bear nodding, bell-like flowers in shades of mostly pink, but also purple, burgundy, red or white. 

The arching stems look incredibly delicate but are actually very robust. Even on a still day, dieramas seem to be perpetually moving, the stems gently bobbing and swaying. They look great in sunny borders or gravel gardens and combine especially well with ornamental grasses.

Dieramas grow from corms (a type of bulb) which spread underground each year, in a similar way to crocosmia. They hail from the grasslands of South Africa and have a reputation for being a little tricky to grow. However they should establish well if they are given the right conditions – sun, moist but well drained soil and plenty of room. They can be slow to establish but should flower well after a few years.

Dierama pulcherrimum is the most widely available species of dierama and is also the easiest to grow

How to grow dierama

Dieramas need moist but well drained soil and a sunny spot. Give them plenty of room – do not surround them too closely with other plants. Ensure the soil is kept moist in summer. They are fully hardy but are likely to die in in winter if the soil becomes waterlogged. Shelter from cold winds.

Dierama: jump links

Where to grow dierama

Dierama flowers
Dierama flowers

Grow dierama in an open, sunny spot with moist, well drained soil. If you’re gardening on heavy clay or sandy soil, improve it with plenty of organic matter, such as well-rotted manure or garden compost, before planting. 

Dieramas have deep roots and are therefore not very well suited to growing in pots – if you want to have a go, choose a tall pot, such as a long tom, and use John Innes No.2 compost.

How to plant dierama

Pink dierama flowers. Getty Images
Pink dierama flowers. Getty Images

You can grow dieramas from seed (see below), corms or container-grown plants.

Corms can be planted in spring, around 7cm deep. Water in well.

Plant pot-grown plants in spring or summer. Ensure the plant sits in the soil at the same depth it was previously. Firm the soil around the roots and water thoroughly.


Caring for dierama

Dierama pulcherrimum
Dierama pulcherrimum

Cut back any dead or tatty foliage in spring. Feed in spring with a general purpose fertiliser to encourage good flowering. Do not allow the soil to dry out in hot summer weather. Avoid moving your plants or dividing them – they don’t like root disturbance, and can take several years to flower again.

How to propagate dierama

Dierama pulcherrimum
Dierama pulcherrimum

Dieramas produce a lot of seed which can be collected in September. Sow straightaway in seed trays in the greenhouse for planting out the following spring – germination may be erratic and can take up to three months. The flowers may not look the same as the parent plant – colours can vary considerably. Plants grown from seed can take five years to bloom.

You can also divide congested plants immediately after flowering, but bear in mind that this is not always successful. Divided plants can be slow to re-establish, taking several years to flower again.

Growing dierama: problem solving

Dieramas are generally pest- and disease-free.

The main problem is lack of flowers. Plants can take several years to flower and flowering is likely to be interrupted if the plant is divided or moved.

If your plant is still not flowering well after several years, it’s likely to be due to the growing conditions. The soil could be too dry in summer or waterlogged in winter, which will rot the corms. Dieramas won’t flower in shade or when crowded by surrounding plants.

Advice on buying dierama

  • Check that you have the right conditions for growing dieramas – they need sunshine, moist but well drained soil and plenty of room around them
  • You can grow dieramas from seed, plant corms or container-grown plants. For the best selection, visit a specialist supplier or buy online
  • Plants are often sold as a collection of named varieties

Where to buy dierama online

Varieties of dierama to grow

Dierama pulcherrimum 'Flaring Tips'
Dierama pulcherrimum ‘Flaring Tips’

Dierama pulcherrimum ‘Flaring Tips’ deep magenta/purple flowers. Height x Spread: 1.4m x 60m

Dierama pulcherrimum ‘Blackbird’ – black-purple flowers. H x S: 90cm x 30cm

Dierama pulcherrimum ‘Slieve Donard Hybrids’ – purple, red and pink forms. H x S: 1.5m x 60cm



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