David Fenwick Snr.
Wed, 13 Jul 2005 15:22:38 PDT
Dear All,
Just a note to explain a little bit about planting depths of my Eucomis 

I plant very deeply because this affords frost protection in the winter. 
However this also has a beneficial effect in the summer, as planted deeper 
the soil temperature is cooler and the bulbs are more able to take up water 
as the soil surface quickly dies out.

One of the problems though is that the bulbs don't divide very well at all, 
they just seem to get bigger. I once lifted my E. pole-evansii to find 
something similar in size to, and what could only be literally described as 
a cast iron man-hole cover. Never again, so don't ask for any. lol.

Also by planting deeply warm spells in winter effect dormancy less and thus 
some of my Eucomis don't surface till July, and don't get frosted at all. 
This is quite a benefit though as it allows me to grow Gladiolus x colvillei 
and nanus hybrids around the bulbs, these die off as the Eucomis emerge.

In my experience the closer the bulbs are to the surface the more frost they 
receive and the more they divide; and in a similar manner a hyacinth divides 
after being attacked by a slug. Last year I was sent a large 'very' damaged 
bulb of comosa 'Rubra', which only had about 1cm sq of basal plate left. It 
didn't die or divide it just kept on happily growing. It is producing a few 
shoots at the moment though.

Flowering is not effected by planting deeply, infact the spikes are very 
strong and thick. Some still flop over as usual but I am happy with my 
method of growing them as it is undemanding, unless I plant in the wrong 
place. Bulb depth is relative to size. Small bulbs (eg. 5cm) of comosa and 
bicolour forms are usually grown on in clay pots and overwintered in a cold 
greenhouse for a season and to increase bulb size quickly, and I'll probably 
plant these out the following year at about a depth of 15cm. If I get larger 
bulbs or want to plant my own potted stock, these are often planted at a 
depth of 30cm from the top of the bulb. I have a very good deep soil, but 
not neccessarily well-drained, just a loam / clay loam.

In the UK Eucomis are regarding as only half-hardy but some are obviously 
very tough indeed and would be ideal for a north facing situation.

I experience leaf wilt here, but only when bulbs are containerised, or are 
at the front of a south facing border. Most of my plants are planted in 
between other plants, plants such as Crocosmia, Agapanthus, Tulbaghia and 
Kniphofia, and thus the leaves are partially shaded, and the ground cooler 
and probably moister. Thus Eucomis either suffer from sunstroke or a daily 
temporary lack of water on hot days.

I suppose it might be that the bulbs have evolved this way, and it may not 
be 'water loss', the water might be sent from the leaves to the bulbs as a 
sort of defense mechanism against drought.

Of the more tender species and species not mentioned, well these all 
survived -6 or -7C this winter, and in unprotected clay pots, filled with 
Irish Moss Peat compost.

Best Wishes,

David Fenwick Snr.
The African Garden
96 Wasdale Gardens,
Estover, Plymouth, Devon. England.
Tel:  44 (0)1752 301402

NCCPG National Plant Reference Collections of
Crocosmia with Chasmanthe, Tulbaghia,
Eucomis with Galtonia, Freesia (Anomatheca Group) and Amaryllis

The African Garden
Wildflowers of the Devon and Cornwall Peninsula
Crocosmia Heritage 

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