Boophone in the S.F. Bay Area

Ken K
Tue, 08 Apr 2003 18:33:22 PDT

As Mary Sue mentioned, I do grow these outside in the mediterranean
climate of the Bay Area, but they are not planted out in the garden.
The University of California Botanical Garden had a nice B. disticha
planted out in their very well drained African Garden (a warm, SW
facing slope) for quite a few years. Concurrently, I was growing my
first one in a pot, which was also left out in the elements all year.
At that time I was unaware that this might be a problem. Even though
these were summer growers in a wet-winter mediterranean climate, both
bulbs put up with this insult for several years, until the severe
frosts of 1990-1991 turned them to mush.

These days, I keep them in pots. My current specimen is half-exposed,
and measures about 5" in diameter at the soil line. It's in a pot of
approximately 3 gallon capacity. (about 1 foot tall and one foot
wide). I use a mix of 1/3 each coarse pumice, fir bark potting soil
and Turface, with about 3 cups of sterilized, screened garden loam
thrown in for good measure. I stage the pots in full sun for the
summer, and it grows a fantastic fan of glaucous leaves, each with the
same half-twist to them. I think I need to move it to a larger
container, because it has not bloomed in the three years or so that
I've been its caretaker. I water it almost every day when its in
growth, feed it on a fairly regular basis with dilute organic soluble
fertilizers (12-6-6) and move it into my small, unheated greenhouse
for the winter. I don't water it again until it shows new growth in
the spring, but because of the humidity and the cool weather, there is
probably a little moisture down deep. Boophone is another of those
amaryllids with perennial roots that prefers a bit of soil moisture
year-round to prevent root desiccation.

I have a few disticha seedlings coming along now, and I handle them
the same way.

I also care for a winter growing Boophone 'disticha', one B.
ernestii-ruschii, and a couple of B. haemanthoides (Telos) all of of
which are kept barely moist in summer, and left outside  to catch the
winter rains. (sometimes supplemented with hand watering). Feeding,
like with disticha, is during growth, with the same food. Soil mix is
similarly lean for these two. Most of these are dormant for the summer

Regardless of growing season, if weather of 27° F (-3° C) or lower
threatens, I protect the Boophone overnight.

East S.F. Bay Area, Ca.
USDA Zone 9 (mediterranean)
-2°C to 38°C

p.s. Turface is a trade name for a fired clay soil amendment and
ballfield surfacing product. I found it at a wholesale turf supply

A close 'cousin' is commonly found in large garden centers marketed by
the Schultz company as 'Clay Soil Conditioner'

I prefer Turface due to its slightly larger particle size and much
lower cost.

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