Aqua Flora SA
Mon, 15 Jun 2009 06:46:30 PDT
Hi list,

Scadoxus species inhabit a very diverse range of habitats in nature, 
ranging from full sun to shady swamps to growing epiphytically on trees! I 
grow all of my plants outside year round, granted we are probably 
equivalent to Zone 9 or warmer.

S. puniceus is perhaps the most variable in habitat preference. I have seen 
plans growing in full sun on rocky outcrops near Dullstroom in Mpumalanga 
(Northern Transvaal), this is a fairly high rainfall region with very cold 
winters which occasionally sees snow. I have also encountered them in dense 
shade in the Knysna forestin the Western Cape. They also occur at high 
altitudes in the Drakenberg mountains, which can get very cold in winter! 
S. puniceus has a rather disjunct distribution with plants occurring in 
South Africa and then again in Kenya where they are reported to grow 
epiphytically on trees! I have however never seen this species growing in 
or near water, and they prefer a dry dormancy. This is a slow growing 
species from seed.

S. multiflorus is altogether another cup of tee! S. multiflorus ssp. 
katharinae frequently inhabits swamp forests where they grow on floating 
mats of debris. Plants look best when grown in shade and quickly burn when 
exposed to full sun. This is a semi-evergreen species and is not adversely 
affected by water during its resting period, and is successfully cultivated 
outside at Kirstenbocsh where they receive heavy winter rains. Relatively 
fast growing, can flower within three years from seed!

In Southern Africa S. multiflorus ssp. multiflorus usually inhabits 
relatively dry areas in lightly shaded woodland. In my experience they 
require a completely dry dormancy. Ironically this is the most difficult 
species for me to cultivate! The most interesting habitat for this species 
I have seen is in Zambia where they grow on ancient anthills which remain 
above water during the rainy season when the plains adjacent to the rivers 
flood for several months. Taking into consideration this species very wide 
distribution across the African continent there are bound to be lots of 
diversity in habitat preference. For me a slow growing species; may differ 
with origin.

Now that I've covered the three most widely cultivated species, I'd like to 
mention a few of the others.

S. nutans is an exclusive epiphyte, however they do occasionally grow on 
the ground. Although they experience a distinct dry and wet season in their 
natural habitat in eastern Ethiopia, plants benefit from watering 
throughout the year. Although I have never visited their habitat, I have 
seen photos, it is the most amazing sight to see them growing epiphytically 
on trees! I am planning to establish a few plants on the trees in the 
garden; I'll let you all know how it goes! Plants form offsets at the tips 
of long stolons (very unusual for Scadoxus!), seed are slow to ripen and 
delicate to germinate.

S. pole-evansii grows in moist montane forest in Eastern Zimbabwe, the 
primary rainy season is in summer though the habitat never dries out 
completely during winter. Plants require shade and have been reported 
growing epiphytically on trees where some leaf mould has accumulated, but 
this is not the norm. It is an easy, but slow growing species, my plants 
took 6 years to reach maturity.

Blooming right now, Haemanthus albiflos and Haemanthus deformis. Lots of 
Aloes coming into flower to!!!

Take care!

Pieter van der Walt


South Africa

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