Chilean Tropaeolum in Maryland

Jim McKenney
Fri, 29 Aug 2014 16:42:31 PDT
In September of 2008 I got nice hickory-nut sized starts of three Chilean Tropaeolum from Telos: T. azureum, T. hookerianum austropurpureum and T. brachyceras. They were planted in little plastic baskets sunk into the ground of a cold frame. They have been there for the six years since. Surely that's some sort of record for Chilean Tropaeolum here in Maryland. Sometimes they appear above ground, some years they do not.  So far, only T. brachyceras has bloomed - and to tell the truth, the first time I saw it (it was sprawling on the ground) I thought it was the weedy little Oxalis which grows here.  For the last three or so years I'm pretty sure only one of them has appeared above ground, so today I went exploring to see what was what. 

What I found today was a surprise: all three are there, evidently alive and healthy and no smaller than when received - in fact, they might be a bit bigger.
So, I'm still in the Chilean Tropaeolum game, but obviously I need help and advice.
Should these plants get a lot of water when in active growth?
How necessary is cold to their culture?  I've noticed that the cold frame plants, which are in leaf throughout the winter in the years when they sprout, quit as soon as the temperatures begin to rise. 
A friend gave me a set of light tables: would I be likely to have better results growing these plants inside in a cool basement under lights? I keep the house thermostat set for 54 degrees F during the winter, so that basement is very cool.

Or might a richer medium and regular watering give good results in the cold frame? 

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where oporanthous plants in variety are beginning to wake up. 

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