Mary Sue Ittner
Sat, 24 Aug 2002 21:39:17 PDT
Dear Jane,

If you ever get seed of that Tecophilaea violiflora, I imagine you'd have a 
lot of takers, especially after Alberto's description.

It doesn't sound like it needs summer water however. Graham Duncan wrote a 
very interesting article about Geissorhizas in Veld and Flora. He said the 
reason most people have trouble growing them is that they don't water them 
enough while they are in growth. For some of the more beautiful species, 
2-3 times a week is necessary and some people put saucers underneath them 
to make sure they stay wet.

When we saw them in bloom last year in South Africa, they were growing in 
wet sand. Last year was unusual so perhaps that doesn't always happen, but 
we couldn't walk through those areas without getting our boots wet. It 
dries out in summer (although there is some fog/mist.) Rod and Rachel told 
us it looks quite different in the summer when most of the vegetation has died.

I grow quite a few species and keep trying more. Geissorhiza inaequalis 
seems to have weedy possibilities for me in the way that Gladiolus tristis 
might, but it is long blooming and I like it. I am reminded of when we were 
talking about weeds on the IBS list and someone told of moving something 
that had baby bulbs or corms attached and unleashing a monster. There are 
tiny cormlets attached to the small corm of this one that get dislodged 
easily and grow to blooming size quickly.

Some of the Geissorhizas are really beautiful. We took a picture of 
Geissorhiza eurystigma on our trip and when we show the slide, people often 
respond audibly. Many of the Geissorhizas grow near Darling, southwest 
coast of South Africa. This is not one of the colder areas of South Africa 
and I know I lost a few of my Geissorhizas when it got down to 19 degrees 
(-7 C.) here in 1990. One of them (G. splendidissima) came back and bloomed 
for a number of years in my raised beds but ultimately I don't think it 
could compete with some of the other things in that bed that multiplied 
much more rapidly. You should try some.

Mary Sue

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