American Frits

John T Lonsdale
Tue, 05 Sep 2006 13:39:47 PDT
I’ve been trying to grow these for a number of years, with increasing
success, I think.  Most of what follows pertains to pot culture, I succeeded
with F. viridea, liliacea and a couple of affinis outside for 2 or 3 years
but they dwindled and finally went away in a cold winter.  On the contrary
F. pudica is a stalwart in the garden.  


My first F. recurvas flowered in pots this spring from seed sown in 2001 and
2002 and were well worth the wait.  A variety of F. affinis forms flowered
also, and F. biflora.  Without doubt the best commercial source of seeds is
Ron Ratko, who has a great selection most years.  I surface sow the seeds
and find, if they are sown by mid- January they germinate rapidly and
profusely and can get a reasonably long season under their belts.  If I
receive them later I tend to hold them until the following fall and sow and
water them in September.  Germination then is in similar proportions but in
mid-winter, giving an even longer growing season.  I leave seedlings in the
pots untouched until after their 3rd season above ground, when they are
repotted.  Most have moved pretty deeply in the pots by this time and I
repot at a similar depth.  They definitely like the depth – at least ¾ of
the way down the pot.


Like the Rhinopetalum group, both seedlings and mature plants rise early
(late December and January) and so need reasonable amounts of moisture
through the winter, albeit with perfect drainage.  They seem particularly
thirsty in early spring and are very sensitive to even a little dryness at
the root, especially as the late winter temperatures start to increase.  If
they flop a couple of times they decide that’s it for the year and go to
sleep.  As long as they are in active growth they get fed and watered,
backing off only when the foliage shows signs of dormancy.  They can get
water for a while after flowering.  They get no water from dormancy until
mid-late September, usually around 4 months.  They want to be dry but not
hot and very dry – they will desiccate.  I tried a new trick on them and
other sensitive bulbs this year – in early July I covered the pots on the
greenhouse benches with sheets of ½” Styrofoam insulation, just resting it
on the labels.  It worked a treat, allowing the pots to continue drying out
but insulating them from extremes of heat in the shaded greenhouses.  I’ll
do this again next year.


I grow them all in BioComp BC% with 50% sieved supercoarse perlite, in
either 3 ½” or 4 ½” pots.


It is a treat to see them coming through in mid-winter and the leaves can be
incredibly attractive – F. ojaiensis for example has the most amazing brown
mottled leaves until well into the season.  The only real problem I’ve seen
occasionally is an attack of botrytis on seedlings – it can progress quickly
if not taken care of.  I keep the greenhouses as ventilated as possible all
the time, the times to watch out for are cold and damp days when it is too
cold to open the vents.  Last year I sprayed everything in the greenhouses,
pots & structures, with ZeroTol and it seemed to reduce fungal problems to
essentially none.  I’ll do this again in a week or two when I finish the






John T Lonsdale PhD
407 Edgewood Drive,
Exton, Pennsylvania 19341, USA

Home: 610 594 9232
Cell: 484 678 9856
Fax: 801 327 1266

Visit "Edgewood" - The Lonsdale Garden at  <>

USDA Zone 6b


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