Tecophilaea/plant mixes/Amaryllis belladonna

Mary Sue Ittner msittner@mcn.org
Sat, 30 Jul 2005 07:43:58 PDT

Bill's descriptions of Tecophilaea and all the pictures on the wiki just 
make me frustrated I can't do better with them. I haven't found them 
difficult to grow from seed. Mine come up every year. I just don't get many 
flowers. Cool dry summers they have been getting so maybe I should put them 
in the greenhouse to see if they would like it warmer? Lee Poulsen can get 
his to flower and it is much dryer where he lives in Southern California 
than it is here, but it is also warmer in summer, especially at night. For 
instance I can grow hibiscus and Gloriosa in my greenhouse in summer and 
get both to flower nicely, but if I put them outside even on my deck which 
is probably the warmest part of my garden in summer they aren't happy at 
all. Anyone know what nighttime temperatures would be when they are dormant 
where they are/were found in nature?

I've tried growing them exposed to the rain and when that didn't work, 
moved them to my structure which is covered and open on the sides and water 
them by hand. I suppose I've had a bit more luck with the latter as in a 
few days of bloom from selected bulbs.

Many years ago I had my husband buy me some decomposed granite after 
everyone raved about it. He got the kind with fines. I think it weighed 
more than sand so using it made the pots very heavy and it kind of clumped 
together so it didn't seem to me that there would be much air in the mix at 
all. I didn't have any improved results in the cases I used it that I could 
tell and some things looked worse. I suppose not all decomposed granite is 
the same. So I never got more. In California Orchard Supply has a mix I 
like and then I add pumice and coarse sand to that and some coir. I recall 
one year our native plant society ordered soil for us all to use who were 
growing plants for the plant sale. It was a disaster for me with my sixty 
inches of rain as it just got too wet and didn't dry out. It was fine for 
some of the others who got much less rain.

Last year I heard a talk from a man who grows carnivorous plants and he 
said coir was death to his plants because of the high salt content. He 
almost lost everything before he realized and repotted quickly. A number of 
people on this list are very keen about it. Has anyone found it was not a 
good idea for bulbs? One year I used mushroom compost in my mix when I ran 
out of other things and that was a disaster. And I haven't been happy with 
mixes containing some of the baked clay products that others have liked so 
much. So after a lot of experimenting like Bill I have an idea of what 
works for me and modify it a bit for certain plants and try to concentrate 
on the plants I grow that flower happily in what I can provide them. I'm 
not quite ready to give up on Tecophilaea yet however.

Speaking of giving up I had a clump of Amaryllis belladonna that bloomed 
for many years and then stopped for about three or four. People on this 
list suggested I needed to add soil since the bulbs were pushing out of the 
ground (not pulling themselves down) and also suggested more light. I added 
soil and we cut down a lot of the pine trees since they were coming to the 
time in their lives they could come down in storms. Still no blooms. So 
this spring I told them if they didn't bloom in the fall they were coming 
out. You guessed it. The spikes are appearing now. The bulbs have pushed 
out of the soil I added, but there is more light in that area of the 
garden. There also was a lot more late rain this year which could be the 
difference. It will be interesting to see if others I have planted in the 
garden bloom well this year. It is very early for me to have blooms. They 
will probably bloom this year and then resume their no bloom cycle now that 
they have their reprieve.

Mary Sue

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