Mary Sue Ittner msittner@mcn.org
Wed, 03 Dec 2003 21:43:39 PST
Dear All,

Dierama is from a South African summer rainfall area. Like Ken I've had 
luck with some that were in my garden when we bought the house and have 
seeded themselves about a bit and have survived with not much summer water 
and hardly any summer water in spite of that. Others I have grown from seed 
and planted out haven't done as well, more like you'd expect. The Color 
Encyclopedia lists one (D. pendulum) as being winter growing even though it 
comes from the Eastern part of the Cape which isn't really a winter 
rainfall area. I always thought I had D. pulcherrimum, but I've never tried 
to key it out and maybe what I have is D. pendulum and that is why is seems 
to cope with my wet winters. Mine usually bloom in June.

Although they are evergreen some of the leaves die every year and begin to 
look a bit tacky so I cut them off. Their "corm" (at least the ones I have) 
are not like most corms in that they seem
to have a fleshy part attached that would be very easy to damage when 
dividing them which is probably why you are advised not to transplant them. 
The Color Encyclopedia describes the rootstock as a "depressed-globose corm 
rooting from below, those of the past seasons often not fully resorbed, 
basal in origin, with coarsely fibrous tunics, often accumulating in a 
dense mass." No way could you send them to the BX I don't think. Planting 
them out from a container on the other hand wouldn't be a problem.

But since we have reports of dividing them I'd just advise to dig deeply 
and try to keep soil and replant right away. A woman passed my house with 
her dog one day and told me she had been successful removing them from my 
garden when we lived here part time and were away. She thought we had 
enough and wouldn't miss a few. I thought that was a bit nervy but 
obviously she didn't or she wouldn't have told me.

Bulbous Plants of South Africa says this: "Offsets are removed after the 
flowering period and should be replanted immediately. The foliage should 
also be trimmed back by about two thirds." So that fits with Ken's 
suspicions. I would have probably thought of dividing in the fall when it 
was growing less actively.

Cathy, I'm sure yours would be much happier in the ground. Put them 
somewhere that you water in summer. They are rather elegant in bloom and 
nice in seed too as long as the seed doesn't get away from you.

I made a Dierama wiki page and put a couple of pictures on it taken last 
June by my husband.

Mary Sue 

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