Bulbs that remain dormant, was Cyanella seedling advice

Mary Sue Ittner msittner@mcn.org
Tue, 18 Feb 2014 07:13:16 PST
Rimmer first asked me about his seedlings since I donated the seed to 
the BX. The couple of times I visited South Africa I saw a number of 
species in the wild in bloom. Most of the ones I saw were growing in 
areas that were quite dry in winter even though that is when it 
rains.  During dormancy it would also be quite warm. I was able to 
get seeds to germinate and grow and even get a number of species to 
bloom (obviously if I was able to donate seeds), but like Lapeirousia 
this is not a genus that I can grow well. I speculate but don't know 
for sure that perhaps my summers  are too cool or my winters too wet. 
Plus I have a lot of trees in my yard/garden and I think probably a 
lot of things need more light. I'd think I'd lost most of my 
Cyanellas and then the rare years they would come up I'd wonder what 
they were until they flowered.  So I suggested to Rimmer that he ask 
people who grew this genus successfully for advice about how to grow it.

We've discussed before wondering why some of the plants we grow 
choose to stay underground and not sprout. That would be a good 
research project I think. I've had better luck with some plants 
moving them to my greenhouse when they are dormant  so they will have 
a warm dormancy. When we built our greenhouse I thought of growing 
vegetables in winter, not using it as a storage area for dormant 
bulbs in summer.

We've been having dryer years and California is having a very serious 
drought this year.  When we first moved here there were a couple of 
El Nino years when we had more than 100 inches (2540 mm) of rain 
during our rainy season (it's completely dry from some time late 
May-June to September-November.)  Last year in a drought year  we had 
only 41 inches (1040 mm).  This drought would be a deluge for some of 
the dryer areas of Namaqualand. This year thanks to some recent 
storms we're now at 16 inches (406 mm), way below our normal 
amount.  Even that is more than some of those areas in South Africa 
get  many years during their rainy season. Our hills are just now 
starting to look green.

On the other hand some things that I haven't seen for years are 
blooming. It hasn't been colder than usual here. We've only had frost 
on our roof a couple of times. But there has been a lot more light 
since it hasn't been raining or overcast/foggy as much as usual and 
we've had more  warmer sunny days than usual. Nathan speculated that 
it was colder temperatures responsible for many species blooming 
earlier in California than usual. I wonder if it is just more light 
remembering that years ago when we had a thread of how long it took 
for plants to grow from seed that some of our Western Australian 
members got plants to bloom much more rapidly than a lot of us with 
longer periods of good light. Bulbs blooming for me this year that 
haven't been good performers in the past: Moraea ciliata, Moraea 
bipartita (which I moved inside so there would be more warmth to open 
the flowers which has led to new flowers almost every day for 
months), Lapeirousia oreogena, Moraea comptonii, Pelargonium 
echinatum (I'd get leaves, not flowers). The Oxalis have been 
amazing. And yes, it looks like Cyanellas hyacinthoides is up for the 
second year in a row. And many things are blooming early. Since we 
collect water from our roof and had rain in November and a little 
after that  to fill our rain barrels and use grey water, we've been 
able to water pots. The sometimes up Tropaeolums I grow in the 
greenhouse are sitting it out this year, but Tropaeolum  tricolor is 
blooming. Why did some of these like Moraea comptonii,  Moraea 
ciliata, and Cyanella hyacinthoides choose to grow this year?

I think Rimmer definitely needs to control the aphids, but his plants 
may also need more light and to dry out between watering.

Mary Sue

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