Lapeirousia oreogena

Leo A. Martin
Thu, 25 Feb 2010 17:14:44 PST
In my stumbling toward learning to grow bulbs in Phoenix, Arizona, a few
species have been much easier than others. One such easy species is
Lapeirousia oreogena, which I grew from seed purchased from Silverhill.
The fact it is easy here with my mostly poor cultivation practices, and
hard for many people elsewhere, probably means it's growing because it
likes my climate rather than my care.

My first plant flowered three years after I sowed the seed. One reads it
has only one leaf. But it poked up what looked like lots of leaves. I
wondered whether I'd mislabeled the pot. It turns out each flower is
subtended by a long, leaf-like bract. This would make sense for a
unifoliate plant - each bract supplies the food for the subtended ovary.
One can tell whether it will flower that year almost as soon as it wakes
from dormancy.

I haven't sent seed to the BX because I've only had 10-15 seeds at a time.
I've planted the seeds. When I have a colony I'll be able to supply seed
to the BX.

People consider this one somewhat hard to grow. Because it's easy here,
I'll give some detail about how I grow it:

I have it in sandy local soil. I use foam drinking cups for sprouting
seed, 3" / 8.5cm wide at the top x 6" / 17cm deep. I sprouted the seed
originally by keeping the soil standing in water. After sprouting I
watered less. In the spring, sometime between April and May when it gets
really hot here, I let the plants go dry and dormant, then put the pots
into boxes and store them in a closet in my house until the next fall.

I want to take them out for the season in early fall, but somehow I never
get my winter-growing bulbs outside until midwinter. They may sleep in the
house until mid December or later. This seems to be a problem for some
plants like some species glads, which haven't returned the second season
after sprouting. However, bulbs of various desert and xeric environments,
like the turkey chick glads and some Moraea, always seem to return.

Due to the unfortunate time constraints involved with earning a living, I
have a tendency to underwater plants in growth. Sometimes they are wilting
before I get to water them. We have sunny, mostly dry winters with some
lightly frosty nights, which don't seem to bother many winter-growing S
African bulbs. I have them outside in full winter sun all day, which is
brighter to my eyes than northern European summer sun. This winter I've
only had to water three times because we've had evenly-spaced rains.

This year I've fertilized with high-phosphate fertilizer almost every two
weeks. In years past I've managed to fertilize once or twice per season.

And that's about it.

Leo Martin
Phoenix Arizona USA

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