Scilla natalensis

Bill Dijk
Wed, 25 Dec 2002 15:18:55 PST
Dear Jim, Mary Sue, Cathy, 
(and the rest of the Gang)

Jim, what a coincidence you mentioning Scilla natalensis, which is just finishing flowering for us' I can't understand why this desirable, easy to grow, once established, for us sometimes dominant species, does not perform for you. Last year Jim Forrest had to shift a big clump of S.natalensis in his garden, because it was getting to big for that particular spot. With its massive root system, it was quite a big job to dig it up..

The bulbs were the size of big bulbs of Crinum. The best way to get it to bloom is to plant it in the hottest, sunniest,free draining spot in the garden, with plenty of moisture when in fullgrowth. Not hardy in colder climates, should get some protection againstsevere frost. I suppose our mild winters in NZ, with occasional light frost, are a big advantage. A sheltered position on a sloping bank facing the sun, or located among rocks would also suit ideally. Plant the bulbs with the top half above the soil level, it loves a good old fashion baking when dormant, this seems to initiate and promote the flowering process (crop) for the next season.The same applies to growing in containers, make sure the pot is big accommodate the massive root system.

Make sure you dry the bulbs off thoroughly, it hates wet,cold feet when dormant.Go easy on the manure or fertilizer as well, with us, it almost thrives onneglect.Good luck with the remaining bulbs.BTW: what a pity you don't live a bit closer, I have four large boxes withplenty of 3 year old seedlings to give away, they probably end up in one ofour city parks or gardens Here s what Terry Hatch writes and recommend:

Scilla natalensis from South Africa is a highly desirable species for largergardens.It forms very large clumps, and when located amongst rocks where the hugepapery bulbs can be seen it is very effective.In early summer the flower-spikes emerge and quickly grow to one meter or more. They are covered with hundreds of soft blue stars, which appear continuallyfor several weeks.The flowers are followed by 40 cm. long grey-green leaves, which often havea purple sheen. The flower are also useful for large floral displays. The bulbs should be planted with their lower third below soil level inautumn or winter. They multiply slowly, seed therefore is the quickest method of increaseIt must be fresh when sown as old seed does not germinate. It should be sownon the surface of a sandy mix, and germination will commence in two to three days. Small bulbs will form before the winter, at which time they will become dormant. Between four and seven years are required for bulbs of flowering size todevelop.

Be patience, if grown correctly, you will be well awarded. May I wish everybody a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 

Bill D. who is exhausted, bloated, lazy and slightly ebriated with overindulgence of Christmas dinner and the occasional  wine.BTW: will post a picture of Scilla natalensis and IBS_Images@yahoogroups.comfor anyone interested in this species, to have a look at.

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