Blooms in Autumn

J.E. Shields
Wed, 02 Nov 2005 05:31:02 PST
Hi all,

Mary Sue's recommendations to Jim McKenney to try summer growing Nerine is 
good advice.  Many of them should be hardy outdoors in the ground for 
Jim.  Start with Nerine bowdenii and N. undulata, Jim.  Brent & Becky' 
should have both.  I'll send a few bulbs of other summer Nerine species to 
Dell for the BX one of these days.  NN. filifolia and krigei are pretty 
reliable bloomers in pots in mid-summer.

My Nerine bowdenii "Koen's Hardy" are now in bloom, and the N. platypetala 
are still blooming too.  All are of course inside the greenhouse 
now.  Other forms of N. bowdenii have not started to bloom so far this year.

The Haemanthus seem to have finished blooming for this season.  About the 
only seed I am getting besides from H. albiflos are my hand-pollinated 
crosses, [coccineus X barkerae] and the reverse.

Most Haemanthus bulbs have a tough time adjusting when uprooted and 
shipped.  In July I received a batch of mature Haemanthus montanus bulbs 
from my friend Dawie in Bloemfontein, South Africa.  He grows these in his 
own garden, and even though rootless and rigorously cleaned for shipping, 
they have turned out to be a strong batch of bulbs.  The new roots are 
growing so vigorously on a couple of the bulbs that the bulbs are being 
pushed up out of the potting mix!  I can't wait to see them bloom in future 
years.  I'm very eager to try them in crosses with other cold-hardy (that's 
a very relative term, in this case!) species of Haemanthus.

Besides amaryllids like Nerine and Haemanthus, I grow a few other 
winter-flowering bulbs in the greenhouse in winter.  The problem here in 
central Indiana, in the hot and humid Midwest, is getting them through the 
summer alive.

An old reliable pot plant is Moraea polystachya, which is in bloom right 
now.  It looks like a cluster of light blue butterflies when in flower.  It 
is somewhat of an opportunistic grower, so I tried setting its pot out on 
the deck in full sun (and rain) for the summer.  It stayed stubbornly 
dormant all summer long (at least this time it did), then commenced to grow 
as soon as the weather cooled down a bit in September. A year ago, it 
bloomed through the summer out on the deck and then not at all over winter 
in the greenhouse.  Although said not to produce offsets, I think one of 
mine have does offset.  I'll have to repot and check that out when they 
next go dormant.

Fall-blooming Narcissus species, like serotinus, viridiflorus, and a few 
others, do survive here in pots and even flower.  The late-winter blooming 
species like assoanus, bulbocodium, fernandesii, henryquesii, rupicola, and 
calcicola, do not survive in pots in the cool greenhouse, let alone 
bloom.  I had to move all of those species outdoors and plant them in the 
ground to see any flowers.  N. calcicola and several forms of N. 
bulbocodium have done well outdoors in the ground.

The cyclamen started blooming in pots outdoors in August, and continue now 
inside the greenhouse, where they are a real joy in autumn and winter.  In 
the ground, C. hederifolium barely survives here, and the others I've tried 
don't survive at all.

Alpine houses seem to be a no-go here in my climate.  Impossible to keep 
cool in summer, and deep freezes in winter.  This is sadly a limiting 
factor when we try to translate the recommendations of English garden books 
into our own gardens.

Bulb frames have been suggested, to ward off the summer rains when trying 
to grow dry-summer bulbs here.  I've not tried one, as I fear the heat will 
override the protection from moisture.  Opening a bulb frame up enough to 
keep it somewhat cool would let in a lot of rain.  Besides, I think our 
hot, humid summer nights are the worst culprits for growing those 
dry-summer bulbs here.  If anyone in a similar climate has any suggestions 
for what I might try here in central Indiana, I'd be most grateful for them.

Jim Shields
in central Indiana (USA)
USDA cold zone 5
AHS heat zone 6
3 inches (75 mm) precipitation per month (more or less)

Jim Shields             USDA Zone 5             Shields Gardens, Ltd.
P.O. Box 92              WWW:
Westfield, Indiana 46074, USA
Tel. ++1-317-867-3344     or      toll-free 1-866-449-3344 in USA

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