Cypella herbertii and other South American irids

Mary Sue Ittner
Wed, 07 Aug 2002 11:31:05 PDT
Dear Diane,

Thanks for posting the information on Cypella herbertii. A number of years 
ago Eric Walton talked about Cypellas on the IBS forum. He had written an 
article for the New Zealand Garden Journal about Cypellas and was kind 
enough when I asked to send me a copy. He says this:

"The most commonly grown Cypella in New Zealand is C. herbertii. It is the 
most widespread species in nature, being indigenous to Brazil, Paraguay, 
Uruguay and Argentina. The leaves are approximately 20 cm. long, but when 
in flower the plant grows to about 45 to 60 cm. high. The outer tepals are 
a rusty orange colour with a dark brown stripe down the middle of each. The 
inner tepals are similar in colours to the outer tepals, but with a white 
stripe down the centre and brown flecks joining the orange and white bands. 
The flowers only last one day, but a well-grown clump will produce several 
hundred flowers over the summer and is quite showy in its own way."

So you must be growing it well.

Also, "These species are easily grown in well draining soil or in pots in 
full sun. They are semi-evergreen, never going fully dormant and never 
losing all their leaves in winter. In my Hamilton garden, these species are 
frost hardy, whether in pots or in the ground. In fact, I suspect the 
plants require a certain amount of cold during winter to flower well the 
following spring and summer....

Generally, all species of Cypella respond well to regular applications of 
fertiliser. The better the plant is grown the more flowers are produced. If 
the plants are kept well watered, flowering will continue into the summer 
for C. armosa, C. fucata, C. herbertii and C. osteniana. Sometimes if a 
watering is missed the plants will temporarily stop flowering, but will 
resume when watered again if the break is not too long. Don't allow the 
bulbs to dry out when being transplanted. Time out of the ground should be 
minimised, because many species are never fully dormant. Also, the bulbs do 
not have very thick skins to protect them from desiccation."

I'll copy the complete article and send it to you. It will be a copy of a 
copy, but still probably somewhat legible.

Now that I hear about your success in a climate like mine I am really 
taking notice. I haven't really had very much success with Cypella 
coelestris (syn. C. plumbea, Phalocallis coelestris.) I have only had a few 
blooms on it and this year so far none. It was blooming nicely in my friend 
Jana Ulmer's garden in Sebastopol recently and I will post a picture of 
that plant my husband took on both images lists. She has it growing in the 

My Hesperoxiphion peruvianum plants look very robust this year and I am 
ever hopeful that they will soon decide to bloom. That is the plant that 
Sir Peter Smithers said if you pinched off the spent flower each day, it 
would keep on blooming. I have done that with the plant Will Ashburner 
identified as Calydorea amabilis and it is still blooming. Yesterday there 
were four flowers as it has branched. If I don't pinch it the next day, I 
have a hard time figuring out what part to pinch off without interrupting 
the flowering. I have a picture of it too, but it is growing in the 
greenhouse for extra heat and a bit dark, but I'll post it as well.  I am 
going to send this to the Australian list too as I suspect there may be 
some people there who grow these plants and maybe Alberto will comment as 
well. It is cumbersome sharing back and forth, but it gets us all together.

Mary Sue

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