A propos Hardy Plants - South Africa style

Ellen Hornig hornig@usadatanet.net
Wed, 14 Jul 2004 08:02:04 PDT
It all boils down to what your whole climate is (and your soil and
topography), not what zone you're in.  As I've reported many times, here in
upstate New York's zone 5 (minimum temp -20F), I grow (from memory, probably
not 100%):

Kniphofias: northiae, caulescens, hirsuta, ritualis, stricta, linearifolia,
ichopensis, triangularis ssp. triangularis, breviflora, brachystchya,
baurii, multiflora, typhoides, and a few hybrids

Dierama: pauciflorum (blooms well), trichorhizum (blooms well), igneum
(blooms well), dracomontanum (blooms sporadically) (and I don't find these
hard to separate and pot up in spring, just when they're resuming active

Moraea huttonii (blooms)

Eucomis: montana, autumnalis (several selections, and they're clumping
up/multiplying nicely), bicolor, bicolor 'Alba'

Galtonia: viridiflora, regalis

Gladiolus: oppositiflorus ssp. salmoneus, saundersii,  "x gandavensis"
(primulinus hybs, whatever - all dalenii hybrids, anyway)

Tritonia disticha v. rubrolucens (Very hardy, very free-blooming, spreads
vigorously, planted shallow and exposed)

Not bulbous: Wahlenbergia rivularis, Berkheya purpurea, B. multijuga,
Senecio macrospermus

And there are doubntless other South Africans I've forgotten, because they
all grow so well, without protection, that I don't pay them any particular

So - it just goes to illustrate that "zone 5" is not a terribly helpful
concept.  Who's to say whose zone 5 is the legitimate one?  What I can point
out is that, in addition to our world-renowned snow cover, we typically have
long wet freeze/thaw cycles in spring, good to adequate ground moisture in
summer, and I live on a hill, so that although many of these plants are in
liquid mud in spring, the liquid is tending downhill (i.e. it isn't
stagnant). The soil here, by the way, is a neutral to mildly acidic clayey

So sure, siting matters.  But it matters just as much to a lot of zone 3-4
plants.  To say you can't grow them in a Kansas or Indiana zone 5 is only to
say just that, not to say that, with the proper conditions, they aren't

Seneca Hill Perennials
Oswego NY USA
Zone 5

Message -----
From: "James Waddick" <jwaddick@kc.rr.com>
To: "Pacific Bulb Society" <pbs@lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Wednesday, July 14, 2004 9:33 AM
Subject: [pbs] A propos Hardy Plants - South Africa style

> Dear Jim et al;
> I have had so little 'luck' with hardy South African plants I
> was getting an inferiority complex. Plants grown from seed exchanges,
> plants given to me from growers in various sites and almost every
> other source all lingered and failed with VERY few exceptions,
> So I am glad to see this expose'. I have tried a variety of
> genera and wish I cold find a reliable Dierama having seen them at
> Strybing and found them incredible.
> So from your list: G. gandavensis /dalenii does fine. Haven't
> tried others.
> Crocosmia and related -more duds although I had a Chasmanthe
> last one or 2 winters in a really hot dry spot.
> Of course Crinum bulbispermum and I recently reported on a
> fluke Eucomis bicolor (but too short to say for sure).
> Most seem a total bust. Am I missing something?
> Best Jim W.
> --
> Dr. James W. Waddick
> 8871 NW Brostrom Rd.
> Kansas City Missouri 64152-2711
> Ph.    816-746-1949
> E-fax  419-781-8594
> Zone 5 Record low -23F
> Summer 100F +
> _______________________________________________
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