Hippeastrum seeds

Rodger Whitlock totototo@pacificcoast.net
Mon, 25 Jul 2005 11:15:25 PDT
On 25 Jul 05 at 14:18, Alberto Castillo wrote:

> ...In both cases, shallow or deep pots, most of the volume is
> useless as it is saturated with water. The problem, already
> discussed, is how to have this excess water leave the pots.

Alberto and I have disagreed somewhat on this point before,
but I'll repeat: The solution to saturated pots is *very* 
simple[1]: make sure there is a capillary connection from the 
pot to the substrate (soil, sand, plunge bed, whatever). In The 
Good Old Days when (some) alpine houses had terra cotta pots in 
plunge benches, the pots were carefully "wrung" into place to 
ensure capillary contact between contents and the plunge 
material (usually sand). Also in this situation, crocking was 
not put in the pots as it would prevent capillary contact.

In really desperate straits, as for example large hanging pots 
of fuchsias, I have even resorted to inserting a length of 
coarse jute string into the drainage holes. Similar to the 
ancient story of stealing a huge vat of wine by using a 

IIRC, Alberto pointed out that pot temperature remains an 
issue, that terra cotta provides evaporative cooling which may 
be undesirable. Hence plastic is preferable, at least for pots 
not plunged. I won't argue on this point.

Some of you may have seen the dog-and-pony show put on by Phil 
Pearson and Steve Doonan of Grand Ridge Nursery, Issaquah, 
Washington. This talk (well worth attending if you have 
a chance) emphasizes the need to have lots of oxygen at the 
roots of alpines, and touches on the relation between water 
retention and pot geometry. I suspect our bulbs have the same 

Footnote [1]: Of course, if you don't over-pot in the first 
place, the problem won't arise, but there's a natural desire to 
give the roots lots of room. And, barring saturated soil, many 
plants do much better in big pots than small.
Rodger Whitlock
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Maritime Zone 8, a cool Mediterranean climate

on beautiful Vancouver Island

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