When to start watering/blooming now

Michael Mace michaelcmace@gmail.com
Wed, 23 Oct 2013 10:06:06 PDT
I'm late responding to this topic, but I wanted to thank Mary Sue for the
great note on her status. It's always interesting to hear how someone's
collection is doing, and I seem to learn useful things from every post like

I live maybe 100 miles south of where Mary Sue is, in a substantially dryer
part of California (to put it in tree terms, redwoods grow naturally in her
area, mine is grassland/oak woodland, and I think Gastil in Santa Barbara
and Lee in Pasadena are in areas that would be naturally chaparral).  Our
storms move north to south along the coast, and as winter progresses the
"storm track" dips further and further south. So Mary Sue says she's had two
significant rainstorms this season so far, I've had one plus a bit of
drizzle, and Gastil and Lee I bet you haven't had any yet, right?

The California native bulbs seem to be used to this, but like Mary Sue I
think it's hard on some of the South Africans. I always think I'm going to
get my repotting done by mid-summer, and I always fall behind and end up
rushing to finish it in September-October. If we haven't had any rain at
that time, the California natives that I repot will still be completely
dormant, but often I'll find that some of the South Africans are sprouting
while dry, especially Oxalis, Lachenalia, Ferraria, and some species
Gladiolus. Even the South Africans that will stay dormant if kept dry don't
seem to be harmed if the rain comes a bit early. In fact, they seem to like
getting an early start on the season.

So here's the watering schedule I've evolved for my summer-dormant bulbs:

Amaryllids: Light water all summer (don't let the fleshy roots dry out).
This includes the South Africans, and the Rhodophialas from South America.

Early August: Start watering Oxalis and Moraea polystachya.

Early September: Start watering Lachenalia and Ferraria

Late September/early October: Start watering all the other South Africans

Mid to late October: Start watering the California natives (I start after
the first good rainstorm, or when the nights cool off).

Your mileage will vary, depending on your climate and the particular bulbs
you're growing (for example, there are moisture-loving Lily species in
California that should never go dry, and I strongly suspect that the
California native Fritillarias need at least some summer moisture if grown
in pots).

As for what's growing now: the Oxalis are in full bloom, Moraea polystachya
is blooming well, Moraea speciosa is in leaf (a desert plant, but seems to
respond well to early water), and the Ferrarias and Lachenalias are in leaf.
Plus the Nerines are dazzling and as usual impossible to photograph

San Jose, CA

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