Fall bloom

John Lonsdale john@johnlonsdale.net
Tue, 09 Sep 2003 15:27:26 PDT
"I was surprised to find, among the many e-mails waiting when I returned 
from a long weekend in California, mention by Russell Stafford in Michigan 
of certain Colchicum cultivars blooming in early August. They never do that 
here in Oregon. Some of those Russell named are just beginning to flower 
now in mid-September, and others I don't expect to see until October. 
Perhaps his are responding to summer water? Yet even in a border that gets 
sprinkled weekly here, 'Nancy Lindsay' ("C. pannonicum") is just opening 
now, and C. speciosum 'Album' is not yet apparent.  

They never do that here in SE Pa. either.  I don't think it is a response to
watering directly, rather a response to falling temperatures, particularly
at night.  My cyclamen in pots haven't had a drop of water for the best part
of three months but the significant drop in night-time temperatures over the
past 10 days or so has triggered a huge number of C. graecum into
magnificent bloom/flower bud.  This phenomenon may be exaggerated in this
species, others react similarly but not so dramatically.  I have just
watered them for the first time.  I think I have finally proved the point
that C. graecum is happier and flowers MUCH better with damp roots but a
warm dry tuber during dormancy.  I put a lot of trays and pots onto damp
sand when they went dormant, at which point they had no roots coming out of
the bottom of the pots.  I kept the sand just damp but allowed the 5" of
compost to get very dry, and, going back to them this week found that during
'dormancy' all the tubers had made massive new root systems, some in excess
of 10" long!  I took some slides to illustrate this.  The tubers are
flowering like never before.  I did the same thing two summers ago and got
great results; storing the pots on a dry surface last summer resulted in
very poor flowering.

Colchicum macrophyllum is always the first colchicum to flower here, at its
prime at the moment in a couple of spots in the garden.  One of these areas
is exposed to the weather so has gotten moisture (i.e. storms) for much of
the past 3 weeks, the other area is in with my onco irises and so very dry
in summer for 3 months.  Both patches initiated flowering on the same day,
moisture levels having varied considerably, but temperatures they
encountered being very similar.  One of the clones of Merendera pyrenaica is
also up in the garden, and Scilla chinensis it at its best also.  Lots to
come - Colchicum speciosum album being one of the very last to flower, at
least a month from now.


Dr John T Lonsdale,
407 Edgewood Drive,
Exton, Pennsylvania 19341,  USA

Home:  610 594 9232
Cell:  610 476 0428
Fax:   801 327 1266

Visit "Edgewood" - The Lonsdale Garden at http://www.edgewoodgardens.net/

USDA Zone 6b


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