Brunsvigia--PBS TOW

Bill Dijk
Mon, 13 Jan 2003 04:51:15 PST
Dear Mary Sue, (and others,)

I am pleased to hear you're having a certain amount of success, you still have to put in a lot of hard work, show patient and practice plenty of TLC, but you might as well keep a positive attitude, that's half the battle won. For me it is often a gut feeling, (or green fingers) that tell me what to do at a given time, I look at a plant and decide on the spot what treatment it needs. First of all there are no hard and fast rules that will give you that magical solution, or solve a particular problem, or recommend a certain treatment, that would be successful for one and failure for others. We all know that to much water could spell problems and make bulbs rot, to dry and bulbs will desiccate and will have the same disastrous effect. Sometimes we have to interpret the information and advise and apply them according to the circumstances at that time. Its like predicting the weather, which is only a forecast, the same with plants, they're only guide lines, how you apply them and put in practice differs with every job you undertake. I agree with you that summer dry does not mean that you have to stop watering altogether, an occasional drink (not waterlogged) will stop the roots from drying out, while to much winterwatering when actively growing can be harmful as well. I often give the plant a good soaking when needed and let it drain and use up the available moisture before I give it another drink. My time of  treatment and end-results for Brunsvigia species for instance is perhaps different to what other growers practice. Today I was removing, shaking out the old compost of the top half of containers of the B.gregaria to the point of exposing the root system (pic.#1) then topping it up with a layer of good free-draining compost, apply a few granules of slow release ( 8-9 months) well-balanced all-purpose NPK fertilizer with trace-elements, add more compost to complete the job (pic.#2) Although dormant, I'll give it one good soaking , to trigger and stimulate it into action, after which it will often flower very shortly afterwards. Alternatively, I'll tip out the whole container with bulbs, shake out all the old compost (pic.# 3) select a slightly larger container and replace with fresh potting-mix, without disturbing the roots, again give it a good drink and wait for it to hopefully flower. Sometimes when the bulbs get to big, I split them up and plant them individually  but make sure you save as much of the fleshy roots as possible for better results. When planting, I usually have a little mount in the middle and arrange the roots evenly for maximum effect.(pic# 4). Add more potting-mix, one good watering, no more until flower bud or leaves appear. I'll treat most Brunsvigia species this way, or any other bulb with the same fleshy root-system, mostly when dormant ( whether winter or summer growing) or just at the point of starting to grow. As far as your B grandiflora is concerned, perhaps you could try to shift the containers temporarily into a position, whereby you could carefully manage the water under controlled conditions, a little bit more work, but then again they might recover and flourish for you. I myself,often juggle containers round the nursery to best suit their requirement, When it comes to Brunsvigia growing times in New Zealand, they are more or less the same as in South Africa ( the same hemisphere), except in cultivation they remain growing much longer than in the wild and consequently mature sooner and perhaps flower earlier. The size of the bulbs, when it comes to blooming, depend on the species, e.g., for B.josephinae it takes big bulbs (pic# 5) to flower, whereas for B.gregaria it only takes half that size and much sooner. BTW: fire or smoking is not always relative to success in cultivation, in the wild, of course, fire merely removes all the weed competition and let in more light which often triggers and stimulate flower initiation.

Best wishes,

Bill D. 

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