South African hardiness, continued
Wed, 14 Jul 2004 08:32:10 PDT
Just thinking a little more about this question of the hardiness of South
African plants here...

The plants we're talking about are mostly from the Drakensberg: dry
winters, but decidedly wet summers (wet soil, wet air).  The kniphofias are
all plants of summer-damp to summer-wet soils (check Codd's monograph). 
Unprotected winter cold certainly might be a problem, but I bet summer heat
and dryness are equally problems (summer highs in the Drakensberg are not
extreme, though I'm too lazy to go check a source for particulars). 

I should post a photo of my opulent K. caulescens, a group of which grow in
a swale (next to Iris ensata and Iris pseudacorus) that is a small creek in
early spring...and another group of which grow in a drift out in the field
(here, the grass may overwhelm them)...

I'm guessing that the damp-soil-loving plants are simply not getting
anything close to the summer conditions they need in Kansas, and probably
not in Indiana either.  They're hot, they're dry (top and probably bottom
as well, even if you irrigate), they're miserable.  If they can't grow,
they can't store up reserves, and their chances of overwintering are that
much poorer.

The point is: this is not a straightforward "hardiness" question.  If I
take a plant from the western Plains, one that is hardy down to -30F or so,
and attempt to grow it in my eastern garden, it will not thrive, will it? 
It's adapted to a hot, dry summer, wind, and alkaline soil.  It will
probably rot. 

Still, it's certainly interesting that the Drakensberg plants seem to find
a viable niche in upstate NY, which can hardly be said to resemble the
Drakensberg.  Guess I'll just relax and enjoy it.

Seneca Hill Perennials
Oswego NY USA
Zone 5

From: James Yourch
Date: Wed, 14 Jul 2004 11:10:00 -0400
Subject: [pbs] Gethyllis--TOW

Hi All,

Looks like a very interesting genus and one I am completely unfamiliar with.
I know it probably varies with the species, but what kind of temperatures
and light do they want during their winter growing season?


Jay Yourch
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