In praise of Hymenocallis 'Tropical Giant'

Corey Thompson
Wed, 23 Mar 2005 18:19:45 PST
Hello all:

I would like to urge those of you living in colder
climates to experiment with the amazing Hymenocallis
'Tropical Giant' as a houseplant.  On a whim, I
purchased two divisions of this plant in May of 2004
and they grew steadily in an 8 inch pot on my southern
windowsill all summer long (I have no outdoor growing
space) until each sending up a flower scape in late
August/early September.  The beauty of the
flowers--which have the wonderful habit of opening in
the evening just as you get home from a long day of
work--and the pervasive, sweet, spicy fragrance
totally captured my heart.

In October of 2004, I repotted my Hymenocallis
'Tropical Giant' into a 14 inch clay pot that, for
size reasons, had to be relocated from the windowsill
to the floor directly underneath.  This reduced the
light levels the plant was receiving somewhat, and of
course the winter sun rays in the Chicago area are
weak at best.  Much to my amazement, the Hymenocallis
didn't seem to mind at all and rapidly sprang into
active growth.  Furthermore, it has been multiplying
all winter long and is constantly sending up new
shoots from below.  I 
think there are now about 12 individual clumps in my
pot now and I see the beginnings of a few others
poking their way up from the soil. I am sure I will
need to repot to an even larger pot by the end of the

Now, much to my continued amazement, both of the
original divisions are again sending up flower spikes.
 What a fantastic spring treat!     

The cultivation of these Hymenocallis has been simple.
 I keep the soil quite moist, only letting it dry down
very, very slightly between waterings and I fertilize
every two weeks or so with a quarter strength solution
of Dyna-Gro's Grow formula (7-9-5 
with trace minerals).  I have never noticed any insect
pests or disease on these plants since they have been
under my care, although when I received them I did
notice traces of a mealy bug infestation.  One
application of neem oil seemed to wipe out the 
mealies for good, because I haven't seen hide or tail
of them since (knock on wood).    

I have also been growing several other tropical
Hymenocallis species on my windowsills this winter (H.
latifolia, H. tubiflora, H. caribaea and H. ex
Guatemala among a couple of others).  All are growing
mightily and do not seem to mind being housebound
though I have not yet had them long enough for them to
bless me with flowers.     

So for those of you who have room for a big, buxom
houseplant with arching, glossy green leaves that is
hardy and undemanding and provides some of the most
exquisitely beautiful and gloriously perfumed flowers
known to humankind, please consider Hymenocallis
'Tropical Giant'.  This entire genus has been
inexplicably ignored by plant lovers for far too long
and truly contains some of the best and brightest gems
among the geophytes.

Corey in Chicago, Illinois

PS--I also posted this on the IBS Members forum on
Yahoo!.  For those of you who are members of both
forums, I apologize for the duplicate post but I just
could not contain my excitement any longer.

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