TOW Roscoea

Mary Sue Ittner
Wed, 12 Feb 2003 20:34:33 PST
Dear All,

I know nothing at all about this genus. Are there no others on this list 
that have experience growing it? I seem to remember Paul Tyerman and maybe 
Mary Wise both in Australia grow it? Do you have anything to add?

In order to add a bit to this discussion I have looked to my personal 
archives and came up with two messages from the past, one from Jack Elliott 
and one from Jim Waddick and am sharing them. Jim, let's have an update.

 From Jack 1/99:
Erik van Lennep wrote >Does anybody grow Roscoea species? ANything you can 
tell me about them?

They are one of my pet genera and I am always surprised that they are not
more popular as they are easy to grow and very exotic-looking in a rather
orchid-like way, with large flowers with an upper hooded or upright lobe and
two smaller lateral lobes and a large broad often 2-lobed lip, on stems
usually 6-10in high.  The most frequently available are R. cautleyoides with
fine creamy yellow flowers, considerably larger and paler in the 'Kew
Beauty' or  'Grandiflora' form, R. purpurea (R. procera) with deepest purple
flowers on branching stems and R. humeana with clusters of several paler
purplish pink flowers to a stem.  Several new varieties have been introduced
from China recently including different colour forms of R. humeana and R.
cautleoides.  R. alpina and R. scillifolia are smaller species with pale
pink flowers but I am not sure that I have them both.

They seem to do well in sun or partial shade as long as there is plenty of
humus and it never dries out.  Seed should be sown fresh if possible, and
they often self-sow, but I have found seed from collecting expeditions,
often not very fresh, germinates OK.  I sow it as soon as availble and keep
the pots outside in the cold through the winter, and it germinates in late
spring.  One warning. Plants in the garden are very slow to appear, often
not till late May.
Jack Elliott Kent UK min -8C

 From Jim Waddick:

Dear Eric;
         This is a genus I have played with and been frustrated by. I
currently have surviving in my Zone 5/6 garden R. purpurea in a couple of
places: shaded -open woodland sort of settings. They emerge quite late, and
both bloom medium purple flowers. Quite nice, but definitely not vigorous
here. They sort of hold their own -that's all.
         A single plant of R cautleyoides has declined for the past couple
of years although it has bloomed once or twice.
         None set seed.
         These plants were purchased as plants and my attempts at seed have
been frustrating too. They germinate readily, but I seem always to get
distracted and they seem very slow. By the time they get big enough to
plant out they just don't winter. I would like to try a few other hardier
species, but as I said perhaps I have enough frustrating plants.
         I should think in your climate many of them would be a snap.
         I wonder which are any hardier than these two: R.  alpina?
         Beautiful gems and a number of new Chinese introductions to taunt
us all.

         Best            Jim W.

James W. Waddick  

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