Eucomis - TOW-Hardiness

David Fenwick
Mon, 18 Aug 2003 10:40:16 PDT
Hi Boyce,
>>>>Currently annuals are used to 'carry' the flowering season throughout
the summer for these groups of bulbs. It is not the best solution. Many fall
flowering bulbs damaged in the process of overplanting with annuals.

Here I use an annually planted groundcover for bulbs. A mixture of
succulents and low short lived perennials and to give extra interest and
colour around them.
The succulents I use, I refer to as 'sacrificial groundcover'; thus they are
planted as a barrier between the frost and soil, an insultator. The planting
also helps clear the ground of excess moisture around the bulbs in winter,
and keeps the ground cool, and bulbs semi-shaded in summer.

Succulents I use for this include, Carpobrotus muirii, various Lampranthus
and Delosperma cooperi; and always some survive to take cuttings from, for
repeating the process and replanting the following year. Most of them root
and are ready for planting in just four weeks, in good weather cuttings can
be direct stuck into the ground as cuttings.

The other plants I use for the same purpose include, Pelargonium
grossularoides which will easily cover a metre per annum, and is easy from
seed and produces lots of it. The other very useful plant is Wahlenbergia
sp., that was collected at Sentinel Peak, seed has a long viability, at
least 4 years, and again the plant produces lots of it. This plant will
flower profusely and very quickly from seed, and in just 3 months, producing
lots of 1 1/2 inch sky - light blue flowers. Rather surprisingly rarely does
it come through the winter, but it's so easy as an annual it's not worth
overwintering it. Hebenstriatia are also good, and root from cuttings in
just two weeks, but these can become woody very quickly and quickly need
replanting from new cuttings.

>>>>Eucomis, given the summer growth and flowering and (hopefully) hardiness
would be a much better solution than annuals.

Most probably, but the best thing about Eucomis is that they are very late
into leaf, and hence there should not be a problem from frost as they
generally rise from the ground well after the risk of hard frost has passed,
eg. mid-May. Here I grow a crop of Gladiolus tristis and x colvillei around
them and these always go over before the Eucomis break ground. Hence you
could grow a few wallflowers or spring bulbs in the beds before the Eucomis
come through, and to achieve a succession of interest.

>>>>Newer Crocosmia cultivars are very showy and have been tried but
apparently are not reliably hardy (perhaps the chipmunks favor the corms - I
know the deer and rabbits apparently relished the foliage or maybe it is a
simply lack of cold temperature hardiness).

You must try hybrids from both C. masoniorum or C. paniculata, indeed C.
pearsei may be hardy if you can get it. Fortunately there are a lot of
hybrids between both C. masoniorum and C. paniculata, and you should have
the best luck with these. Some of the corms of these are about the size of
tennis balls and hence you will be able to plant these much deeper than any
other Crocosmia. I'll have save some seed for you, as some of these come
relatively true from seed, eg. 'Zeal Giant'.

>>>>>We continue to observe and modify the theories. Part of the fun of this

We do, and it sure is.

Best Wishes,


David Fenwick
NCCPG National Collection of Crocosmia with Chasmanthe and Tulbaghia
The African Garden
96 Wasdale Gardens

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