Pot size and Tecophilaea in flower.

Bill Dijk daffodil@xnet.co.nz
Fri, 29 Jul 2005 18:51:05 PDT
Dear All,

When the subject turns to growing and repotting Tecophilaea's successfully,
or any other bulbs for that matter, I like many, have my own growing style,
and recommendations.
As John Lonsdale and Mary Sue mentioned there are no hard or fast rules for
growing bulbs: climate conditions, treatment required, feeding, watering,
potting mixture, size of pot or container, they all have a bearing towards
the final analyses: failure or success,
It all boils down to a sensible well-balanced approach, the knowledge and
growing requirements to interpret its needs and put it into practise.
Personally I would not underpot or overcrowd the seedlings or mature bulbs
when repotting or planting in containers.
In our sheltered, at times high humidity climate, overcrowded planting could
lead to mould, diseases, or weak drawn up plants, not to mention less
increase in size, and  not flowering as a consequent.
Like many growers, I usually leave the young seedlings the first two seasons
in the same pot or container and repot most of the mature bulbs every season
for best results and quality bulbs.
Our potting mixture is a simple basic 50% composted bark and 50%
horticultural pumice and coarse sand, with a well balanced slow release bulb
fertilizer and trace elements, that is low in nitrogen.
The percentages of the media could vary depending on what each plant needs
with the level
of low or high ph.
Like Jane, I have access to cheap, large quantities of pumice, which in mho
makes all the difference in performance, well aerated and perfect drainage.

Anyway, its that time of the season once more, to get me all excited, when
one of my favourite treasures the Tecophilaea's start flowering again.
I will post another couple of close-up images on the wiki for everyone to
have a look at and enjoy.

I wish I could have been more helpful with Mary Sue's Tecophilaea, but as
you mentioned before, what works for one person, does not necessarily work
for someone else.

My apologies for the long winded rambling on.

Best wishes,

Bill Dijk


For the benefit of the new PBS members, or anyone interested, I will repeat
and reintroduce a
previous posting of a article I wrote about the beauty and cultivation of
this charming little treasure. (my pet subject)

Dear Bulbophiles,
Without doubt, the most sought after of all the smaller (alpine) flowering
bulbs/corms: the fabulous "Chilean blue crocus"
Its supreme beauty and rarity makes it a must for in every connoisseur's
I am of course talking about the 3 winter-flowering Tecophilaea
cyanocrocus species and varieties
TECOPHILAEA cyanocrocus.
Another cold climate hardy bulb for the keen grower and collector
This species is now believed to be critically endangered in the wild, mainly
because of over-collecting and intensive grazing by cattle and
sheep to the point of becoming extinct.
Fortunately they are not difficult to grow, and although rare in 
and given the right environment, will not be lost from the planet.
They are usually grown in an alpine house or cold glasshouse.
Because they are so unique and beautiful, these plants justify special
attention and treatment.
It starts growth early in the season, but appears to be hardy in all
except very exposed areas. and need very good drainage.
Young growth can be scorched with severe frost, but will soon harden.
Plant in well drained fertile potting mix in full sun 5cm. deep (2inch.)
Bulbs should remain cool until growth appears from mid to late winter.
Water only when in growth, but be careful not to over-water in warm humid
When flowering is finished, gradually reduce water to allow bulbs to go
dormant and dry in summer.
In view of its small size and rarity T. cyanocrocus sp.are best
cultivated in a container or some other "protected" situation where it
can thrive and receive the special attention it deserves.
As an Alpine house-plant it can more easily be grown and maintained,
and a pot of it is always treasured by keen collectors.
Bulbs multiply slowly; the best method of increase is to propagate from
fresh seed, sown in autumn in a gritty seed mix.
Seed will develop more readily when hand pollinated, which required a
deft, delicate touch with a very fine camel-hair brush, if it's going to be

Sow seeds in a well-drained seed-medium, with plenty of course sand and or
pumice for good drainage (May-July)
Seedlings will reach flowering size, when grown on for another 3-4 years.

Tecophilaea cyanocrocus: one, often two flowers are produced per stem,
of intense vivid gentian blue with a white throat.
Flowers 2 inches across when fully open.
T.cyanocrocus var.leichtlinii: the same beautiful plant with 2 inch.
Sky-blue flowers and large white centres.
T.cyanocrocus var.violaea: another member of this attractive but rare
species, the bright violet blue colour of this form has great charm.
Tecophilaea's are always much admired when flowering en masse,
a sight never to be forgotten.

I think Mary Sue, Lee Poulsen and Diane Whitehead, have already covered the
germination of the Tecophilaea cyanocrocus seed quite adequate.
Like Mary Sue, Lee Poulsen, and John Lonsdale I sow my fresh seed in
April-May (Southern
Hemisphere) in deep seed trays, in a well-draining  sterile seed mix, topped
off with ½ inch of finer mix or river sand.
The seed normally germinate in 6-8 weeks if everything goes according to
During that time I pay particular attention to watering, not to wet, and
always start them in semi-shaded, covered open benches, (Mary Sue knows what
I am talking about) in the coolest part of the nursery, to stop them damping
As soon as the seeds are up, I usually take them outside to harden off and
grow them on, and let nature do the rest.
I will attach a picture of successful germinated Tecophilaea seedlings after
3 months, from last season's endeavour on the wiki, for everyone to have a
look at.

> I found the thread about pot size very interesting and certainly agree
> with
> John Lonsdale that there isn't a right way to grow bulbs. We all have
> slightly to very different conditions that will make what works for one
> person not work for someone else.

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