Hieronymiella aurea & Rhodophiala advena Seedling Update

Mark Wilcox marque219@yahoo.com
Thu, 31 Oct 2002 18:26:18 PST
Hi All,

For those of you who got these particular IBS B/X seeds in September of 2001
and March of 2002, I thought I'd provide a progress report.  The plants in
question are Rhodophiala advena and Hieronymiella aurea, respectively.

With the recent posts about how Rhodophiala and Hieronymiella can't survive
frost, I decided to dig up and take the seedlings I'd planted in the garden
inside for the winter.  Unusual for me, when I dug them up to pot them I
snapped a picture.  I'll post it to BULBS IMAGES.

Both kinds of seed were planted soon after receipt, grown under lights in the
basement until planted outside this year.  I had a total of 4 R. advena and 2
H. aurea, only planting 1 of the latter outside.

When I dug them up I found that the R. advena had pulled themselves to the
bottom of their plastic mesh peat pots.  It took some careful work to separate the mesh from the fleshy roots.  They were at the absolute bottom, with fleshy roots protruding every whichway through the mesh.  The bulblets not only didn't go dormant through our very hot, very dry summer, but the larger ones had even produced offsets!

The H. aurea didn't fare as well, and wasn't in the bottom of its pot.  In
fact, the garden plant, which only managed to keep 1 leaf in growth at any
time, did miserably under the hot, dry conditions as compared to the one kept
cooler inside under lights, which has half a dozen much longer, larger leaves.

I was told that this bulb is summer dormant in the wild, which may explain why the milder, consistently wetter conditions in the basement promoted much better growth in what the plant may have found to be an endless autumn.  I've  just taken and will post a comparison shot to show just how dramatic the difference is.

In spite of what's been said about these bulbs and their relatives being frost tender, Rhodophiala bifida has been growing outside in the garden here for several years.  When I tried to remove an offset earlier this year to share with a friend, I found that the bulbs had dug themselves down to at least 8 inches (20 cm) below the surface, which keeps them well below the frost line. However, the foliage has taken temperatures here as low as 15ºF (-9.5ºC) with very minimal damage.  So R. bifida, at least, is made of sterner stuff and can withstand frost, even if it isn't routinely exposed to it in the wild.

I'd be delighted if others would share their experiences with growing these
plants.  H. aurea in particular is practically unknown in cultivation.  At
least, I've never been able to find anything about it in my reference works,
and Tony Avent, who donated the seed, wrote comments to that effect.

Mark Wilcox
Washington, DC

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