Colchicaceaes and Calydorea

Mary Sue Ittner
Tue, 09 Jul 2002 20:47:06 PDT
Dear All,

I had a surprise bloom in my greenhouse this week. I know you are supposed to keep seed pots for more than one year if you don't get germination, but I have not always been that patient. If it is something I really want, I will try a 2nd year (or if I know others have had success the 2nd or later years). Robin Attrill has advised giving Romulea more than one year and I have found that to be right. But often I just give up after the first year. I also have a very bad habit of reusing the soil if no seeds come up to pot something else which has meant I have some surprises.

I had found a tuber in one of my pots last year that didn't really look like any other tuber I had. I grow Gloriosa and Sandersonia (the latter courtesy of Dirk Wallace and the IBS BX a number of years ago). They are two of the few summer growers I grow. This plant had leaves that looked like a Gloriosa, but the tuber was different. It didn't bloom. I thought it must be a Gloriosa and marked it as such. Today when it bloomed I found I had a Littonia modesta. In my records I have recorded that I started seed of this 3/21/99 and next to the date up I have typed, never. So I guess I need to change that. I am very pleased to have this plant. 

I experimented with my Sandersonias this year. Someone was selling it as a fall blooming plant at a farmer's market thinking it would be popular as a harvest type flower (and people loved it so they were correct.) It obviously can be manipulated to grow at a different time as I found when Dirk sent all those tubers to the United States and they bloomed well after coming into growth. So I thought I might be able to extend my season. I starting watering one pot in February and one in April. The second pot came up one month after the first and was in bloom as the second was finishing. There wasn't that much difference in timing so obviously something besides water influences growth. Temperatures or light maybe?.

As my first Gloriosa also opened today, I have all three in bloom at the same time.

Finally I have a story about Calydorea amabilis. Bill Dijk from New Zealand gave seed to the IBS BX. I couldn't find anything out about it and didn't have a clue what to do with it. I started it in spring and didn't get germination until late winter. Once again I have recorded 0 plants as the seedlings didn't survive I thought. The summer before Will Ashburner visited from Australia this unusual plant appeared and I had no idea what it was. It only had a few blooms,  but I managed to get a picture of it. Will looked at the picture and told me it was Calydorea amabilis. I lost that plant but not before collecting a lot of seed so I started some more. I read all I could that people had posted about it and it still wasn't clear to me when it was supposed to grow. So I decided to make it a winter grower as that would be more convenient. My plants came up and grew (in my unheated greenhouse)this winter but weren't very vigorous until spring when they came to life. They are blooming happily now. And I'd like to report that I am doing the trick that Sir Peter Smithers told us he had done with Hesperoxiphion peruvianum, a cousin. I am nipping off the spent flower tip each day after it has closed and it is continuing to bloom. I haven't done that in the past with my own Hesperoxiphion and as a result only had a few blooms. My plants look strong this year and I expect they will bloom much longer since I now understand this trick. Do people do this with Herbertias too?

Mary Sue

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