Real gardens;

Lee Poulsen
Fri, 25 Jan 2008 12:34:51 PST
Jane McGary wrote:
> Regarding Marguerite's wondering about bulbs she could plant in her upland 
> southern California garden, many of the species she mentions have a growth 
> cycle not suited to her climate (Habranthus, Ipheion). If I lived there I 
> would look more at Mediterranean and Turkish species, and species from 
> western South America rather than Argentina (northern CHile is southern 
> California in a mirror). 

As it turns out (and I'm very intrigued and wonder what the evolutionary 
history of some of these Argentine bulbs is), Ipheion actually does very 
well here in southern California and will even naturalize if you're not 
careful. It's dormant during the summer and in growth during the winter. 
I know from Alberto's information that it is hot and rainy during the 
summer in Argentina/Uruguay when Ipheion is dormant. But I've learned by 
accident that even if there is little to no water during the summer 
here, even in pots, Ipheions do quite well and act as if they were 
mediterranean climate bulbs. The same is true for some of the other 
eastern South American bulbs such as Nothoscordum (including the almost 
impossible to eradicate weed N. gracile or inodorum) and Rhodophiala 
bifida. There are a few winter growing Habranthus that are also dormant 
during the summer and they also do well here. It seems that if they are 
dormant during the summer despite not getting any water, they still 
survive and in some cases thrive regardless. (Hence my wondering about 
their evolutionary history; I wonder if they derive from summer-dry 
climates and have evolved to withstand hot wet soils during the summer 
while dormant.) Of course, this ability allows them to also be grown in 
locations that receive summertime irrigation here.

--Lee Poulsen
Pasadena, California, USDA Zone 10a

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