Morea polystachya and Morea hardiness
Sun, 10 Oct 2004 11:02:16 PDT
Ellen Hornig's splendid collection of South African plants are all species
from the Drakensberg mountains which receive rainfall in summer and are dry
and cold in winter. It is here that we must look for truly hardy South
African plants for our gardens. Ellen: May I suggest you also try Moraea
alticola, which is the most magnificent of the high altitude, evergreen
species, with big leathery leaves and large pale yellow flowers.

Moraea polystachya, which Jim Waddick is bravely attempting, has a wide
distribution in southern Africa, ranging from the Karoo north of Cape Town
through the interior of South Africa to Namibia and Botswana. This is much
more arid country, in parts receiving mostly winter rainfall, in others
summer rains, but in no area is it as moist and 'temperate' as the
Drakensberg. M. polystachya always sems to be a winter-growing plant and is
therefore very unhappy to be frosted: it has never succeeded outside for me
in southern England (where winters are not nearly as cold as in Missouri).
It does very well in a pot in the alpine house, but even here the flowers
sometimes fail to open properly and become a botrytis-magnet. it has never
yet set seed either, and I've been growing it for 18 years!

John Grimshaw

Dr John M. Grimshaw
Garden Manager, Colesbourne Gardens

Sycamore Cottage
Nr Cheltenham
Gloucestershire GL53 9NP

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <>
To: <>
Sent: Sunday, October 10, 2004 4:50 PM
Subject: RE: [pbs] Morea polystachya and Morea hardiness

Jim  - I'm growing Moraea huttonii in the open garden, and it not only came
through last winter (a cold one, down to -20F, but with outstandingingly
deep and consistent snow cover) just fine, it managed a few blossoms in

It is not near a foundation at all. It's on a hillside which is both
free-draining and damp (i..e gets lots of runoff). Nearby are Dierama
pauciflorum, Eucomis bicolor, E. autumnalis, Galtonia viridiflora,
Kniphofia caulescens, K. multiflora, K. ritualis, K. northiae, Berkheya
multijuga, B. purpurea, Artemisia afra, and Geranium robustum, all
flourishing (though the Geranium refuses to bloom).  My little South
Africa. :-)

Ellen Hornig
From: James Waddick
Date: Sun, 10 Oct 2004 10:33:00 -0500
Subject: [pbs] Morea polystachya and Morea hardiness

Dear all;
Seems like the few bulbs I planted on the south side of the
foundation have dwindled down to one. Last year and again now it is
sending up a nice looking (if small) flower spike. Last year a sudden
frost killed it before any opened. Looks like the same fate this
year, Alas.
Surprised it persists without blooming, but as I said now
only one bulb left. Anyone have better luck in a similar cold climate
with M. polystacha or other Morea?. It is a pretty thing on those
rare occasions it does bloom.

Best Jim W.

More information about the pbs mailing list