Rhodophiala: A Nederland Challege!

Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Wed, 30 May 2012 10:23:46 PDT
David Maxwell wrote,

>How can anything as brainless as a bulb know whether it's in a pot...or not?
>But they do!
>So that's what I'm basing my decision to plant all the other species
>of Rhodophiala directly in the ground.

FIrst, off topic, can I encourage David and other correspondents to 
avoid nonstandard spellings and abbreviations in their posts? We 
happily have many members who read English as a second (or third) 
language and who won't understand "cuz" for "because," for example.

Regarding Rhodophiala bifida, its annual cycle, because of its 
geographic origin, is very different from that of the western South 
American species. It enjoys summer moisture, which is why it's a 
popular hgarden plant in the Southeast of the United States.

Finally, in regard to pots vs. open ground for bulbs, I find that 
most of the larger ones are far better without root restriction. 
Formerly I had to keep everything in pots, plunged in frames, but now 
I've moved everything to free growth in raised beds in the new bulb 
house. I had gradually changed from clay pots to PVC mesh aquatic 
pots for the larger bulbs, and they did better when then could at 
least extend their annual roots into the surrounding sand. Now, 
however, almost every single genus and species that grows taller than 
6 inches/15 cm has improved almost beyond imagining. Calochortus are 
flowering at much greater height and increasing wonderfully. Desert 
irises are threatening to outgrow their space in two years. I posted 
earlier on the astonishing response of Notholirion thomsonianum. The 
taller Ornithogalum species will have to go into the open garden -- 
there is no room for their leaves. Even some plants that had grown 
for many years without flowering (e.g., Calochortus striatus) have 
now flowered two years running.

I've dug down to Rhodophiala bulbs in CHile and Argentina to see how 
they grow, and they are VERY deep in the soil. Mostly they grow in 
deep sands, such as stabilized dunes or sand deposited by seasonal 
flooding; I saw R. montana in a soil that was basically cinder.

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

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