Rain lily stories

Mary Sue Ittner msittner@mcn.org
Sat, 26 Jul 2003 23:17:06 PDT
<x-flowed>Hi all,

Last year about this time we were discussing how to get rain lilies to 
bloom. I haven't had much luck with them in northern California where our 
summers are cool and it doesn't rain. I tried putting them in my greenhouse 
so they would be warm and letting them go dormant and soaking them but 
still most of them didn't bloom. I gave some away to a friend in Texas 
where I thought they would bloom more reliably and kept a few pots for one 
last try. Last winter when most of them got Stagonospora curtisii I threw 
away the ones that looked the worst. I never got around to throwing away 
one of my pots of Habranthus robustus which is one that I can get to bloom 
once or twice during the summer. This one was a descendant of the one 
Fausto distributed as H. biflorus which everyone said was just H. robustus. 
Mine never had more than one flower. I gave it the trick of putting it 
under the sprinkler and moving it with the sprinkler so it got really 
saturated. This has worked in the past, but still there was no sign of life.

As I was preparing to chuck them out, I had a twinge (some of you who also 
belong to Bulbs Anonymous will understand this) and I decided to give them 
the peroxide treatment that Den Wilson told me about instead. I soaked them 
and instead of letting them dry for days as he instructed potted them up. 
(You see I was ambivalent or I would have followed the instructions 
exactly.) I put them in the greenhouse to warm up and two days later to my 
surprise one of them was blooming.

Yesterday we had a freak rainstorm here. Normally we have no rain at all in 
summer and this was a brief thunderstorm which we also rarely have and 
mostly it just settled the dust. I am sure it would be reported as a trace. 
I have been madly repotting things since I'll be in South Africa when I 
usually do this and had a whole grouping of pots in one area that I have 
had to put wire over to keep the jays at bay. Today I looked over there in 
the sea of pots and saw a flower. What in the world I thought could that 
be. It was one flower of Habranthus tubispathus. I thought I had thrown all 
of them out so I looked for the label on the pot. It was labeled Unknowns 
#1. I have had great fun planting community pots of unknowns and then 
seeing what they are and this was the first one I planted so far this year. 
I haven't watered any of those pots and the little bit of rain we got 
wouldn't have made the soil wet so it had to be the change in barometric 
pressure? I'm not sure what to do with it now as its a bit early to water 
the others. So I guess I'll just think of it as a bonus.

I've added pictures to the wiki of the two blooms. Doug Westfall just added 
a picture of Habranthus robustus too so you can see all three.

Mary Sue
Mary Sue Ittner
California's North Coast
Wet mild winters with occasional frost
Dry mild summers

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