J.E. Shields jshields@indy.net
Mon, 06 Dec 2004 10:22:57 PST
Hi all,

I've been fascinated with Haemanthus for many years.  However, until about 
7 years ago, I grew only Haemanthus albiflos.  This has proved itself to be 
a vigorous plant, surviving in pots and increasing steadily over the 
years.  It sets seeds from self-pollination almost every year now.

H. deformis is surviving, as two bloom-size bulbs purchased as mature 
bulbs.  They do not offset, and their roots are much more sensitive to 
excess moisture that is the case with albiflos.

We have raised a batch H. pauculifolius from seed.   Most are growing well 
and producing offsets, but none have bloomed so far.  One or two clones are 
so vigorous that I expect to be able to propagate them soon and eventually 
offer for sale.

In 1997, Silverhill Seeds started to offer fresh seeds of Haemanthus 
species from all over, and I bought some right away.  It has been a long, 
hard struggle to learn to grow them, and the floral results have been sparse.

Much of that sparseness has been due to my own inexperience growing 
them.  Transplanting Haemanthus seedlings before they are 4 years old is a 
recipe for retardation.  No matter how strong the temptation, I have 
gradually learned not to disturb Haemanthus seedlings any earlier before 
that.  So be sure you plant any seeds you start in a pot where they can 
stay undisturbed for the next 4 years, at least.

I also asked for the provenances of any seeds I bought, and I find that the 
H. coccineus seeds from Gifberg have leaves that are elongated and well 
marked with transverse striations on the outside of the leaves at the 
bases.  The seedlings of the Gifberg batch that were left alone for 5 years 
are much bigger than those that were repotted after 2 or 3 years.

The H. coccineus seedlings from Bainskloof have broader, shorter leaves, 
that have less well-marked striations underneath.

Finally, H. coccineus grown from seed from Richtersveld have the largest 
leaves and the least basal striation.

None of these have bloomed.

H. barkerae is also here.  I have plants from three batches of seeds, 
planted in three different years.  Accession #259 were planted in 1997 and 
repotted after only 1 year.  These are still small; they were truly stunted 
by the premature repotting.

Accession #368, a small batch planted in 1998 and repotted in 2000 are the 
biggest and most interesting of the H. barkerae batches.  These bloomed 
this summer for the second year.  Of the four bulbs, two bloomed more or 
less normally, while the other two tried to bloom but the inflorescences 
aborted while still in the neck of the bulb.  Three of the four are also 
producing offsets.

Accession #936 were planted in 2000 and have not been repotted so 
far.  They are small and very slow growing.

I consider #368 to be a uniquely vigorous strain of H. barkerae and I have 
plans to work with it further.

I have been growing (or trying to grow) several other species of Haemanthus 
too.  Maybe I will comment on the Haemanthus humilis group later.

Jim Shields
in central Indiana

Jim Shields             USDA Zone 5             Shields Gardens, Ltd.
P.O. Box 92              WWW:    http://www.shieldsgardens.com/
Westfield, Indiana 46074, USA
Tel. ++1-317-867-3344     or      toll-free 1-866-449-3344 in USA

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