Sinningia tubiflora

Alberto Castillo
Sat, 24 Aug 2002 10:54:20 PDT
Dear all:
              Robin, it is always good to hear of the Romulea king. Yes, 
Sinningia tubiflora is one of the most beautiful South American bulbous 
plants. I have seen them growing in several environments
1)	An area of summer rainfall in central Argentina, where Hippeastrum 
parodii used to grow. Full sun and an incredibly mellow soil like what you 
can find in an old forest in thick layers. The area is quite dry and hot and 
rain falls from mid Spring to late Autumn. Therefore very winter dry. Tubers 
were 10 cm deep.
2)	An area in eastern Argentina in gravelly soil, from rice grain to hen 
size sizes. Full sun and almost frost free winters. Rain falls almost the 
year round except for one month in late summer. It is a summer grower here 
too. Tubers were 2 cm deep.
3)	An area in NE Argentina where it grows in a sort of chaparral beneath 
spiny shrubs. The area is hot and the soil is acid and powder like. Here it 
grows in shade but also moves to neighboring pastures where from the 
distance they look like large flowered white hybrid Penstemons. Here it 
receives  year round rains but it is a summer grower too. Here it grows with 
the upper third of the tuber above soil level.
Therefore, it is a spring-summer-autumn grower and winter dormant. Full sun 
seems to be the normal light requirement. Most of us would think it is a 
forest dweller like so many of the other gesneriads. Very good drainage 
seems to be very important and where the soil is heavier, the tubers are 
partly out of the ground. These can attain a big size, say 10 cm in 
diameter. Another thing worth mentioning  is that new tubers form at the end 
of long runners, always at a distance from the mother one. This seems to be 
a mechanism to avoid disease, because I have heard of a number of cases in 
which this superb plant increased in cultivation to a clump of many tubers 
and then all succumbed at once. With their normal rate of propagation they 
should be a weed everywhere and obviously are not. I would suggest a yearly 
repotting in which all the offsets are removed to other pots as a means of 
avoiding disease propagation. In other words, in nature they are always at a 
distance from their kin . Foliage is hairy and grey suggesting it has a good 
resistance to drought, therefore it is better to avoid watering the leaves. 
As for the flowers, a well grown plant will produce several spikes but faded 
flowers must be removed at once (besides, why to wait for seed when tubers 
are produced abundantly?).
The scent is overpowering and yes they are pollinated by moths.

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