Cyrtanthus species and hybrids Intro.TOW (part 2)

Bill Dijk
Mon, 29 Dec 2003 12:01:29 PST
Dear All,

This time I will describe some of the individual species, providing  a 
selection of the most rewarding species currently in
cultivation. (descriptions sometimes borrowed from other sources, like the 
Internet, books, articles etc.)
Actually I learned a lot myself from researching all this information and 
will readily put it into practice in the near future.
The genus Cyrtanthus can conveniently be placed into two distinct groups 
according to their growth cycle, namely deciduous and evergreen species.

The deciduous members may be further divided into either winter- or summer- 
growing species: the winter growing species occur mainly in the 
south-western and southern Cape; and the summer-growers are found in the 
southern, eastern and northern parts of South Africa.

The evergreen species occur mainly in the southern and eastern part of the 
country, and include C.mackenii and C.brachyscyphus. A notable exception is 
the beautiful C.herrei, one of my favourites, an evergreen plant that 
occurs in the arid Richtersveld in the far north-western corner of the 
Northern Cape.

Cyrtanthus brachyscyphus: this small semi-evergreen species has intense 
coloured bright red-orange flowers and one of the easiest to grow, and does 
best if left to form big clumps.Their main flowering period is in spring 
and summer, and make good container and garden subjects.

Cyrtanthus breviflorus: the bright yellow flowers of this extremely 
variable species always demand attention
It flowers mainly in spring and summer, but sporadic blooms may appear 
throughout the season.
They form part of the fire lily group and would normally need fire to 
stimulate flowering, but  Greg Pettit has managed to get a clone from the 
swamps that thrives in water, and produces up to 14 canary yellow flowers 
per plant.
Wow, ideal for the average, no nonsense, care free, easy going bulbophile.

Cyrtanthus clavatus: this dwarf, white, cream or pale pink-flowering 
species from the Eastern Cape, with red-brown or green median stripes  is 
dormant in winter and flowers in summer, and the bulbs should be planted 
with the necks just above ground level.

Cyrtanthus elatus: previously known as Vallota speciosa aka as George Lily, 
Scarborough lily, is one of the most striking members of the genus and now 
grown world-wide for its cut flowers. The most cultivated colour is 
scarlet, but now the pinks and white forms are available as well. 
Complaints  are often heard that this species flowers very erratically in 
cultivation, but some forms are just naturally more floriferous than 
others. The form usually cultivated by growers, reproduces vegetative at a 
sometimes alarming rapid rate-- the clumps become overcrowded very quickly 
and if they are not lifted, split up and replanted on a very regular basis, 
flowering can cease.
They prefer full sun rather than shade and flower mainly in summer. Ideal 
for containers garden subjects and cutflowers.

Cyrtanthus epiphyticus: A very attractive species from the Eastern Cape and 
KwaZulu-Natal, with pendulous  reddish-orange flowers in spring, 
September-October in the wild

Cyrtanthus eucallus: This floriferous, orange-flowering species and 
numerous hybrids deserves wide horticultural attention.
It is evergreen, multiplies quickly and requires a shady position. Summer 
flowering, easy species, and ideal container plant.

Cyrtanthus falcatus: a beautiful trouble-free plant from KwaZulu-Natal.
The "shepherd's crook" inflorescence emerges without warning in late spring 
and early summer, red or pinkish flushed green with a hint of yellow 
exterior of the tube, is soon followed by the broad bright green foliage.
This is a remarkably tough species which easily withstand moisture during 
its winter dormant period.

Cyrtanthus fergusoniae: a deciduous or evergreen species with bright red 
tubular flowers.
This is nor an easy plant to maintain over an extended period, needing much 
less water in summer.
Very attractive species, good for containers.

Cyrtanthus galpinii:  this dwarf, pink or orange flowering plant resembles 
C. sanguineus and is very beautiful.
Dormant in winter and flowers in August-September in its native habitat.

Cyrtanthus guthrieae: few adjectives adequately describe the beauty of this 
extremely rare species with its bright red flowers that reflect a golden 
sheen in the sun. Fortunately it is not too difficult to grow and with 
constant attention to avoid over-watering, it flowers faithfully every 
March-April in the Southern Hemisphere. Dormant in summer, but may 
occasionally be evergreen.

Cyrtanthus herrei: the decorative evergreen, glaucous foliage is the main 
attraction, although the umbels of greenish-orange, pendulous flowers in 
late summer,rival any display by any other species. The huge bulb should be 
planted with the neck and about two-third of the bulb above ground level.

Cyrtanthus loddigesianus: this floriferous, creamy-flowered species is one 
of the easiest Cyrtanthus species to grow.
Mid-summer flowering.

Cyrtanthus mackenii: probably the most easily grown of all the species.
Numerous colour forms exist, and all are delightfully scented. This species 
particular ornamental when different colour forms are grown together in the 
same container. It likes to remain undisturbed for many years for best results.
Ideal container subject, garden plant and cutflower.

Cyrtanthus montanus:///one/ of the most striking species, producing orange 
umbels in autumn.
This plant requires very infrequent watering-there is nothing quite as 
irretrievable as a bulb of C.montanus once it has started to rot.
Usually evergreen, but needs to be almost bone-dry in winter.

Cyrtanthus obliquus: in flower this stately plant is impressive in every 
way; its twisted evergreen, glaucous foliage combines magnificently with 
the sturdy peduncle or stalk of pendulous, yellow, red and green flowers. 
It prefers a full sun position, with at least two-third of the large bulb 
above ground. Requires much less water in winter, and blooms in spring and 

Cyrtanthus obrienii:an evergreen spring species with red pendulous flowers.
It is fairly attractive and quite a tough plant, preferring to stay in the 
same position for many years.

Cyrtanthus sanguineus:///ideally/ suited to cultivation, this variable, very 
floriferous species is evergreen and blooms in mid-summer.
Flower colour varies from bright pink to orange-red; well grown bulbs often 
produce two stem each.
This species is particular suitable for hanging baskets.

Cyrtanthus smithiae:///this/ deciduous, white or pale pink striped flowers, 
summer-growing plant has very attractive "corkscrew" foliage.
The inflorescence appear promptly in early summer together with the new 
foliage. This is quite an easy species to grow provided it is kept 
absolutely dry in winter, and watered rather in frequently in summer.

Cyrtanthus spiralis: very rare in the wild and one of the most difficult 
members to cultivate successfully over an extended period.
It is usually evergreen in cultivation but needs to be kept almost bone-dry 
in summer, and given very infrequent waterings in winter.
Coarse river sand or gravel must be incorporated into the growing medium 
and nicely coloured red flowers, one of my favourites.

Cyrtanthus staadensis: this rare, floriferous plant deserves wide 
horticultural attention. Its bright orange-red flowers with their 
distinctive, dilated perianth tubes are carried on long peduncles or 
stalks, making it an ideal cutflower.
This species prefers a sunny aspect and tends to be evergreen in cultivation.

The species covered in this email represent only the more popular and rare 
species. Many Cyrtanthus species are rare or have a limited distribution 
range. Through habitat destruction, industrialisation, housing, some of 
these species are becoming increasingly threatened. It is obvious, 
therefore, that many species as possible should be preserved in cultivation.

Best wishes,

Bill Dijk

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