Archives, Lachenalia and such

Mary Sue Ittner
Sat, 29 Nov 2003 10:29:09 PST
Dear Joe,

Welcome to our pbs list. My Lachenalias growing in a raised bed which you'd 
expect would give them a little more protection than growing in a pot all 
turned to mush one year when it got to 19 F. degrees (-7 C.)and stayed cold 
for three days. Some of them I saw again in a couple of year, but most were 
permanently gone. It has been my observation that a lot of people who grow 
this genus outside (southern California maybe excepted) give it some 
protection from the elements (overhead cover for instance). At least that 
was what I observed on trips to both New Zealand and even South Africa. And 
Don's experience using trees for the cover in Australia is another example. 
Bill Dijk had a system in New Zealand that impressed my husband and I 
enough that we adopted it. Most of my Lachenalias are on benches that are 
open all around but have a fiber glass cover. We have frost cloth attached 
to the roof of this bulb structure and rolled up. On those nights when very 
cold temperatures are predicted (a handful of times a year) we undo the 
ties and unroll all the frost cloth and the structure is then enclosed in 
frost cloth. It probably gives us a few more degrees of protection.

Coastal species of most of the South African winter rainfall species are 
more likely to be tender. Plants that grow in the Sutherland region I would 
expect to be hardier since that area is much colder. I wish they had a 
field guide for that area as when I have talked to people in South Africa 
they rave about the delightful bulbs that grow there and it would be nice 
for those of us who live in colder climates to know which ones they are. I 
know there are some wonderful Romuleas and Daubenya aurea.

I don't know how Rod and Rachel decide what zone to rate plants they offer 
in the Silverhill Catalog. They haven't grown all of these plants and even 
if they did, they wouldn't have the temperatures in Cape Town to test them. 
A forum like this one is useful because people can share their experiences.

I looked through the Color Encyclopedia of Cape Bulbs in the Lachenalia 
section, and looked for which bulbs had RV (Roggeveld Center) next to them. 
The Roggeveld is an area bordering on the Karoo that is a winter rainfall 
area where winter temperatures at the higher areas are low and frost and 
snow usual. Rainfall is 125-250 mm (5-10 inches) a year with the higher 
amounts along the escarpment. Choosing bulbs from this area could mean 
you'd be choosing the hardiest, but you still might have to test them to be 
sure. Some of the soils in this area are doleritic clay so during the rainy 
season the soil would probably remain wet.

So here are the species with that label: L. alba, L. ameliae (widespread, 
so you might need seed from the colder areas), L. attenuata (also found in 
other areas), L. comptonii, L. congesta, L. doleritica, L. elegans, L. 
isopetala, L. macgregoriorum (I've never seen seed of this one), L. 
marlothii, L. multifolia, L. neilii, L. obscura (also found in other 
areas), L. schelpei, L. whitehillensis, L. zebrina. Some of the members of 
our group grow many of these I am sure. If any of these have survived very 
cold temperatures, please share which and how cold with the group. Mark 
Mazer has kindly shared offsets with the BX from time to time and I was the 
lucky recipient of L. zebrina which has the most wonderful leaves. It was 
good that I had a chance to admire the leaves since it rotted before it 
bloomed to my dismay. It is probably one of those with leaves that need 
protection from excessive winter humidity and dew.

On another note I particularly am thrilled that you are enjoying our 
archives since more hours than I care to remember went into getting our old 
archives from our previous list transferred over to the new list. That 
discussion about pronouncing Latin names was especially memorable. In fact 
we edited  a line out of it when we didn't get permission in time to 
include it. I will never feel embarrassed again as I struggle over a name 
and always reassure people that it doesn't really matter how you say it as 
long as the person on the other end can figure out what you mean.

Mary Sue

Mary Sue Ittner
California's North Coast
Wet mild winters with occasional frost
Dry mild summers

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