Changing Hemispheres and Paramongaia

Mary Sue Ittner
Tue, 22 Apr 2003 15:45:35 PDT
Dear Angelo,

No one seems to be responding to your question about seeds and bulbs from 
opposite hemispheres. This was discussed as a topic of the week several 
years ago on the IBS list and I attempted to summarize what everyone said. 
I will send that to you privately.

It is indeed a bit of a challenge to move plants from one hemisphere to 
another although obviously some things are harder and some things easier 
and the microclimate you can provide is a huge factor in whether you will 
be successful or not. It seems to me that if something is easily grown from 
seed to flower in a couple of years that growing from seed and having the 
plant start out used to your conditions makes more sense than buying a bulb 
or corm unless it is something you cannot purchase in your hemisphere.

As you point out with seeds that don't have a short viability it is 
relatively easy to store them in the refrigerator until it is time to plant 
them. I have had really good luck with Silverhill Seeds, seeds from Dirk 
from Australia, and IBSA seeds that fall in this category.  Seeds with a 
short viability are much more tricky. You may be forced to start them 
immediately. With Amaryllid seeds sometimes when you get them they have 
already produced a radicle so you have no choice. I recently participated 
in the Croft group order and that was true for some Nerine seeds I ordered. 
I potted them up and two days later there were green shoots.

Andrew Wilson tried storing seeds of Amaryllids from South Africa in 
plastic bags in the refrigerator hoping to delay their grow so he could 
start them later when the temperatures would be more what they needed and 
had success. I tried replicating this for a few seeds last year (planting 
half and storing half) and found the ones I put in the refrigerator started 
growing a month or so later so my results were different from his. I am 
fortunate enough to live in an area with cool summers which I think gives 
me an advantage and I just try to keep the seedlings growing through to 
when they normally would have their first dormancy by keeping them cool and 
giving regular fertilizing. Last year I lost all my Gethyllis and Strumeria 
seeds after they came up, but did better with Brunsvigia and Haemanthus. 
But I had just one pot of each and am not very expert with Amaryllid seeds.

As for bulbs the same principal has worked for me. I have been successful 
extending the dormancy of some things by keeping them warm and starting 
them later. Last year I got three different species of Moraeas from Bill 
Dijk and they all came up and flowered this winter more or less on schedule 
after I stored them for a longer time than normal and planted them close to 
the time I normally would start Moraeas into growth.

With the Croft order I had Amaryllids some which had green showing and 
others which looked like their roots would be unhappy with a long dormancy 
so I potted them up right away and they are growing already. I will try to 
keep them cool and shaded and into growth as long as possible and then give 
them a shorter than usual dormancy. But they still will be stressed. Diana 
once suggested for some Nothoscordums we were turning around to put them in 
the refrigerator every night if you lived where night temperatures did not 
drop during the summer and you were growing winter rainfall plants.

I have successfully turned around: Moraea, Leucocoryne, Narcissus, Ipheion 
(by far the easiest, no set back at all), Sandersonia (another easy one 
since you can actually make it bloom when you want by controlling the 
watering) and Nothoscordum. Some Nerines seem to be growing fine but 
haven't gotten to bloom yet. Some of the things I have tried skipped a year 
of growth and one or two of blooming in the process. The Tecophilaea bulbs 
I bought last year grew well but did not bloom and only have just recently 
returned so they are still very far off and I'm reserving judgement on how 
easy they will be to turn around.

I still think it is better to buy plants that have been growing in your 
hemisphere if there is a choice. Some of the ones I tried were BX offerings 
so it didn't cost much to experiment.

I hope Alberto will not mind my coming out of the closet about this last 
one. I purchased a Paramongaia weberbaueri from New Zealand last May. I 
came home and read all I could about it and appealed to this group for help 
as it seemed that this plant was really hard to grow successfully. Most 
people who got it to bloom started it in fall and found it didn't grow very 
long before it wanted to go dormant. One man from Canada started it in 
February and had better luck. Paul Chapman from the UK was trying to grow 
it in summer but had never gotten it to bloom. Alberto said it needed a 
cold dry winter and a scorching hot summer and then was when it would get 
the little rainfall it got in nature. So most everyone was growing it at 
the wrong time of the year (except Paul). I have a mild very wet winter and 
a completely dry not hot summer so I had purchased a plant that was 
absolutely wrong for my climate! I had had the opportunity to correct when 
it should have been growing since I had gotten the bulb from Bill at the 
time I should have planted to make it a summer growing.  Not knowing that I 
had put it in dry sand in my greenhouse to be warm until fall and it was 
already August.

Alberto encouraged me to try anyway when I thought I'd just give it to 
someone from a hot climate. He also told me to plant it in a 5 gallon can 
in very sandy mix. Now since I didn't really expect it to survive I didn't 
want to fill a whole 5 gallon can with mix. For its storage I had planted 
it instead in a very deep narrow container used for trees. Rather than 
repot it  in late August with his encouragement I watered it. Almost 
immediately it sprung into life and grew very well in our warmer fall 
weather. In fact it was enormous and I could see right away that it needed 
more room probably than I had given it. He told me to only let it grow for 
a few months but to fertilize it well so it would have energy to store for 
the next season. But it looked so healthy and the weather was mild so I 
kept it going until maybe November and then I stopped watering it. Only a 
week or so ago did the last dry leaf fall off. I haven't dumped it out and 
I'm not sure I'd remember how big it was to see if I have shrunk it with my 

But I do intend to repot it in a much larger pot and see how I do trying to 
make it grow in summer. I am wondering if I need to bring it inside at 
night to create warmer temperatures. Perhaps Alberto will be willing to say 
whether it stays warm at night too in its native habitat. Except for maybe 
one or two nights a year it cools off a lot here at night. I will let you 
all know how it does for me on a summer schedule.

Anybody else care to share with Angelo their experiences.

Mary Sue

Mary Sue Ittner
California's North Coast
Wet mild winters with occasional frost
Dry mild summers

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