Mary Sue Ittner
Mon, 09 Dec 2002 17:34:19 PST
As I am offering seeds of this plant on the current BX I have a few 
interesting observations to share. I used to see offerings in catalogs for 
Veltheimia but they always seemed so expensive so I never ordered any. Then 
I saw some at Bill Dijk's nursery in New Zealand and thought them really 
beautiful. Doug Westfall was digging some Veltheimia bracteata out of his 
garden and shared some with me and I absolutely love them. The leaves would 
be worth growing them alone, but they are in bloom for a very long time as 
well. I planted some in my garden in a somewhat shady spot that has some 
protection from the elements since it is under trees and next to my garage. 
These are doing well and surviving with occasional summer water. They are 
deciduous for me even with occasional water. I envision a whole swath of 
them like Patty Colville described were once at the L.A. Arboretum. They 
are producing offsets and this year I was amazed to see some new ones in 
the area where I want them that weren't attached to others so some seed 
must have found a spot and germinated so perhaps it will happen sooner than 
I expect. Yea!

I have had mixed success with seed. The deer ate all my seedlings one year 
and I had poor germination twice from fall sowing. Last year I decided to 
soak the seeds before I started them and planted them in winter instead of 
fall and had really good luck.  They aren't really from a winter rainfall 
area even if they act that way for me so starting them later seemed worth a 

Remembering Diana Chapman's wonderful fire method story and her tale of 
getting massive quick germination using fire I tried soaking my seed in 
smoke water, but found no real difference between smoke water, regular 
water, and kelp water. Cathy Craig got seeds once to bloom in 18 months and 
I  remembered that. I started some inside and some outside. The ones inside 
I remembered to fertilize more and they have quite a few leaves now even 
though they aren't even a year old. The ones I left outside and fertilized 
less have only one and sometimes the second leaf now, but  the leaves are 
much healthier looking, darker green, shiny.

Lauw advised me that I'd really love Veltheimia capensis. I ordered one 
from Diana and it disappeared. I suspect birds, but it could have been 
something else. It was very sad. I requested seed whenever it appeared on 
exchange lists, but never got it. Finally last year I ordered seeds from 
Rachel (which I should have done straight away) and had good germination 
and most all have returned. It is very strange however that the seedlings 
all seem to be growing on their own schedule with one making great progress 
and having already about 4 leaves and many others with one or two leaves 
and a few just now leafing out. Doug last year sent me one that was 
supposed to be V. capensis that the birds singled out for attention 
immediately!! I sheltered it in my green house where they can't go and it 
put out replacement leaves. It looks like V. bracteata to me but he tells 
me that it still may be capensis. Do the two hybridize?

When Bill Dijk was in Pasadena, I bought seed of his bicolored form that I 
admired in New Zealand. I haven't started it yet, but wonder if the seeds 
come up how many I can expect to be bicolored?

Mary Sue

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