When to start watering/blooming now

Lee Poulsen wpoulsen@pacbell.net
Wed, 23 Oct 2013 11:16:11 PDT
I should write something up, but as always, my plants are behind where Mary Sue's or Mike's are at any given point in the autumn. 

But a couple of comments on Mike's comments:

1. We actually did get a first rainfall early this month, about 0.25 inches here in Pasadena, which is actually a significant amount that early in the season.

2. When you mention "Rhodophialas from South America", are you talking about those from the "eastern half" of the continent (Argentina, Uruguay, and possibly Brazil) or those from the "western half" (Chile)? Because the climates of the two are very different, even though their growing/dormancy seasons are often very similar. From what I've seen of the rainfall records for Chile, except at the very southern latitudes,  summer rainfall is almost non-existent (just like here in California), so I've never thought to even lightly water my summer dormant Chilean Rhodophialas during the summer. I'm pretty sure Osmani Baullosa who grows many Chilean geophytes and lives in Santiago, keeps almost all of his dormant bulbs unwatered during the summer. However, Argentina and Uruguay get lots of rainfall during the summer and yet the Rhodophialas from there are nevertheless dormant all summer long, so I lightly water those during the summer.

--Lee Poulsen
Pasadena, California, USA - USDA Zone 10a
Latitude 34°N, Altitude 1150 ft/350 m

On Oct 23, 2013, at 10:06 AM, Michael Mace <michaelcmace@gmail.com> wrote:

> 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
> that.
> 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
> properly.
> Mike
> San Jose, CA
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