Babianas and cold tolerance

Tony Avent
Tue, 22 Jan 2008 15:03:55 PST
Mary Sue, etal:

We've also tried to see how many babianas that we could kill.  In spring 
2004, we planted the species below.  Only B. mucronata and B. vanzylae 
are still alive, but none have flowered.  We've had mild winter since 
then, only dipping to 12 degrees F, and we offer no winter protection.   
Other suggestions of species to try are most appreciated.

Babiana mucronata    No
Babiana odorata    Yes
Babiana patersoniae    No
Babiana ringens    No
Babiana sambucina    No
Babiana stricta var. regia    No
Babiana vanzylae    Yes

Tony Avent
Plant Delights Nursery @
Juniper Level Botanic Garden
9241 Sauls Road
Raleigh, North Carolina  27603  USA
Minimum Winter Temps 0-5 F
Maximum Summer Temps 95-105F
USDA Hardiness Zone 7b
phone 919 772-4794
fax  919 772-4752
"I consider every plant hardy until I have killed it least three times" - Avent

Mary Sue Ittner wrote:
> Dear Brent, Joe, and all,
> Thanks Joe for alerting us to the article in Nature and Brent for sharing 
> the information about your experience with Babiana ringens. If I recall, 
> when Babiana was the topic of the week in April the general consensus was 
> that it was not hardy and attempts to grow it in colder climates had not 
> been successful. Babiana ringens is a coastal species so you would expect 
> that it would be less hardy than some of the species growing at higher 
> elevations that would experience colder temperatures on a regular basis. 
> Your story for me illustrates a couple of points. One is that where you 
> plant is important as is the planting medium. Plants in the ground are much 
> more likely to sustain cold temperatures than those in pots. Babianas tend 
> to relocate deep in the ground where the corms would have some protection 
> from the elements. And because many of the species produce multiple 
> cormlets around the main corm, even if a plant was wiped out because of the 
> cold, some of the cormlets could remain and in later years plants you 
> thought you had lost could reappear. When we had an unusually cold December 
> (I think it was 2000) many of my South African bulbs in a raised bed turned 
> to mush. Some put out new leaves the very same year. Others I thought I had 
> lost returned in subsequent years. The propensity to produce cormlets also 
> protects species from predation. One assumes that the Baboons for which 
> this species is named would miss some of the smaller cormlets. On African 
> Hill at the UC Botanical Garden, Berkeley, California,  I understand the 
> gophers in the past redistributed and relocated some of the Babiana 
> cormlets. That and all those new cormlets create quite a display in spring 
> as illustrated by Liz Waterman's photo on the wiki.
> Mary Sue
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