What's in bloom

Mary Sue Ittner msittner@mcn.org
Sat, 28 Nov 2009 07:41:36 PST
In coastal northern California there are a number of bulbs blooming 
in the ground, in raised beds, in pots exposed to the elements, and 
in the greenhouse. For me it has been a matter of finding species 
that work for me rather than genera. The Oxalis are continuing to put 
on a show although some of the early flowering ones are done and new 
ones recently starting. Oxalis luteola is particularly nice at the 
moment. Although I don't do well with all the Cyclamen species, a 
number of them I grow very successfully in containers and in the 
ground although they don't seem to bloom quite as well in the ground. 
Cyclamen cilicum and C. hederifolium are still blooming. I've had 
blooms from these two species since July and August. I have too much 
shade in my garden to grow many of the wonderful Narcissus cultivars, 
but this time of year I really appreciate
Narcissus cantabricus which started blooming in October and will 
probably last through December.

Like Mike Mace I've have Moraea polystachya in bloom. It's been 
blooming since September. It usually gets stopped by the cold and 
rain in late December or early January. Ones I've grown in the ground 
are either gone or staying underground, but the raised beds where I 
grow bulbs in large containers sunk in containers seems to work well 
for them. I think the soil does not dry out quite as much as in the 
ground which seems to suit them.

Fall blooming Crocus continue to bring me happiness with one species 
following another. In bloom right now are Crocus niveus with its 
large white flowers, Crocus ochroleucus, Crocus longiflorus, and 
another purple one grown from seed that is supposed to be C. 
asumanie, but is a rich violet, when that species is described as 
almost white so is probably something else.

Although I have at last figured out how to get my rescue Nerines to 
bloom well thanks to this list by leaving them year round in my 
greenhouse and watering them when dormant and have summer growing 
species in pots growing outside where they are partially sheltered 
from the winter rain, they are mostly done. The only ones I can grow 
in the ground are flowering now, Nerine pudica and Nerine humilis.

Haemanthus albiflos started blooming in October and is still growing 
strong, growing outside in my lath area and two I grow in my 
greenhouse, Haemanthus paucifolius and H. deformis are just starting. 
Cyrthanthus mackenii hybrids are blooming too.

I have a Strumaria and a Hessea in bloom, but even though the flowers 
are lovely, they are best admired with a hand lens. More spectacular 
at the moment are the several pots of Massonia pustulata. Since I 
have too pots and am trying to cut back, I try to limit the number of 
pots I grow of anything, but I must confess to having more than two 
pots of these since they are favorites. There are a number of 
Lachenalia (Polyxena) species blooming and one Lachenalia rubida in 
bloom in my raised beds. Two early blooming Freesia species are in 
bloom. and Romulea hallii is set to open shortly. And I am thrilled 
to report that it looks like I'm going to have three Brunsvigia 
grandiflora bulbs bloom this year. Since this is the third year in a 
row that it has bloomed (in a container, sunk in a container in the 
ground) and most of the Brunsvigias I have grown from seed have never 
bloomed, I am quite pleased. Iris unguicularis is blooming and an 
Orthosanthus from Mexico that blooms off and on during the year.

In the unusual time to  bloom category I have a low growing form of 
Triteleia hyacinthina, and have had a few blooms from Calochortus 
uniflorus already and a lone Hesperantha pauciflora. This is supposed 
to be a late winter, spring species so I suppose it could be 
something else as I grew it from seed, but strangely there is usually 
a couple of them that bloom in the fall and the rest of them in the 
spring. Also looking quite strange is a lone Gladiolus carmineus 
blooming in the middle of the long leaves that appeared after all the 
others finished blooming in a clump that has expanded over time.

I grow a number of wonderful South African Ericas in my garden. They 
bloom at various times throughout the year, but there are some really 
nice ones in bloom at the moment.

Mary Sue

Mary Sue Ittner
California's North Coast
Wet mild winters with occasional frost
Dry mild summers 

More information about the pbs mailing list