Mark Wilcox
Sun, 04 May 2003 06:59:43 PDT

Before it gets any later I wanted to respond to this.

On Thu, 01 May 2003 08:02:41 -0700, Mary Sue Ittner wrote:

>I am intrigued with this sentence in your post:

>"Already I can tell that Nn. sarniensis and bowdenii survived it due to
>new growth already in evidence."

>For most of us N. sarniensis hybrids have been dying back and yours are 
>putting on new growth. Could this be a reaction to the cold? Do
>filifolia, undulata, and mansoniorum lose their leaves in winter for
>you? Mine don't. My N. bowdenii lose their leaves for awhile in winter
>and then shoot out a few months later but the others still have leaves.
>It sounds like these may be hardier than we expect.

It is definitely due to my local conditions that this happens.  All the
leaves on all the Nerines you mention above are killed back to the ground
by subfreezing winters here in Washington, DC.  So, none of them have
evergreen foliage here.  Nn. sarniensis and bowdenii don't exactly shoot
foliage, but a small section, maybe an inch, rises from the ground in
early winter, almost like a trial baloon.  Later, as soil temps gradually
warm up, they will grow these leaves to their full length.  They remain
in leaf for the summer, flower in fall, and then lose their leaves again
in winter.

The smaller species don't put up foliage until after it gets hot.  So, I
won't know how they fared with the colder winter until later.

I think I planted all the Nerines such that their necks are about 1
inch/2.5 cm below the soil.  As such, they're definitely frozen during
the coldest part of the winter.  Yet, they survive.  If they're any
deeper, they pulled themselves down.

Winter survival may depend more on moisture levels than subfreezing
temps.  I think Den Wilson said that he was unable to overwinter N.
sarniensis.  While they wouldn't freeze solidly where he is, they'd
certainly be very wet for an extended period.  We do have both rain and
snow in winter; the soil gets wet, but drains well.

I think Mary Sue or someone else wrote about Allium unifolium in bloom in
CA.  That plant is just putting up bloom stalks here now, which won't
flower until later in the month.  When does it bloom in California?

Another plant that comes from California (Monterey County, I believe) I
grew from seed last year, started inside in March under lights.  It's not
a geophyte but serves as a good example of how conditions can change a
plant's normal cycle.

The plant is Penstemon heterophyllus 'True Blue,' and an enticing picture
of it in flower can be found on the site of the place from which I bought
the seed:…

Per the info on the seed packet and the web site, it blooms from seed its
first year, blooming every summer thereafter.

Other than the fact that I put it in part sun, the best I can provide, I
pretty closely followed the instructions.

The plants grew just fine, but didn't flower in either summer or fall.  I
provided no mulch or other protection over the winter, and they survived
fine.  Now, in spring, EVERY plant is in bud, and should bloom soon.

I'd guess that this plant blooms with the return of the rains in fall in
California.  Since we had a drought last year, there were no copious
rains.  This spring we're actually above where we should be for rainfall,
and the plants respond by blooming at an odd time.  Seems like, just as
with Rhodophialas, they're opportunists.

I'm sure more such examples could be cited by many people on this list.

I happily report that both Scilla peruviana and my indoor/outdoor Clivia
miniata have both been very recently discovered to be in bud!  When does
Clivia bloom in California?  For me, here on the right coast, it usually
happens in May.

Mark Wilcox
Washington, DC

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