Starting winter growing seed/Veltheimia seed

Paul Tyerman
Mon, 09 Feb 2004 14:42:49 PST
At 08:06  9/02/04 -0800, you wrote:
>Dear All,
>I looked through all my records of starting Veltheimia seed and saw my best 
>results came from starting seed in early October when it would have been 
>very warm here. The next time I have a chance at V. bracteata (bi-color) 
>seed I'll try bottom heat since I have no survivors from my other attempts 
>at that seed. Over the years I've been collecting hints for particular 
>kinds of seed so will add this suggestion about Veltheimia.

Mary Sue et al,

I didn't respond to the Veltheimia thread as I came in fairly late (been
sick again so not regularly downloading email), but given your comments
here now I'll contribute.

Last July I was sent seed of both mixed colours and yellow Veltheimias by
Doug Westfall (Thank you yet again Doug)...... These were relatively fresh
(i.e from recent season) but were not "just picked" or anything like that
as far as I know.  I also requested and received Veltheimias from a couple
of other sources (both times as mixed or bicolor seeds from memory).
Checking up on various sources it seemed that I was best to sow in either
autumn or winter.  Doug recommended that I hold them until my own plants
here had their seed maturing so that they would be sown at the same time as
they naturally would be harvested and sown here (which makes lots of
sense).  Given I had heard that they were successfully sown in spring I
more or less compromised and sowed during late spring about as mine were
setting seed but about 3 or so weeks before that seed matured.

I sowed the seed on the 30th October and it started germinating a few weeks
later.  From the yellow I currently have 9 or 11 seeds up, and pretty much
100% germination from all the other bicolors and mixed colour seed (I can
get exact figured if you like as I kept track of amounts of seed in each
pot etc).  Given that we have a distinct total dormancy in summer here of
the Veltheimias I have been a bit concerned that these would crisp off as
soon as the weather got to high temps so I've been concerned how long it
takes a new seedling to set up a bulb enough to come back if it goes
dormant (anyone know how long it takes to set up a sufficient bulb?).
They've been through over a week or 30'C plus (including 4 concecutive days
over 37'C) over New Years and recently been back up to 37 after a
relatively cool January for us.  So far no damage and the seedlings are
still going strong.

So it appears that they are germinating just fine without any sort of
treatment at all after being stored for a number of months (not in the
fridge but just at room temperature).  100% or close germination in most
cases including pretty good germination in the yellow seed which is
supposed to be so much more difficult.

At this stage it looks like the seedlings will stay evergreen this year, or
I think they would have reacted to this heat and gone dormant already.  I
am hoping they'll stay evergreen as this means bigger bulb and less stress
from going dormant.  The seedlings are growing in my fairly shaded and
protected seed area so this will be helping to cut down the temps as well,
plus there is little direct sun and not during the heat of the day.  The
main bulbs I have are growing in the full sun and are totally dormant now,
but some of these seedlings will end up being placed in full shade as I
read that these plants can take anything from heavy shade through to full
sun and still manage to flower (which is pretty rare in bulb circles, that
is for sure).

I guess I'd better mention my sowing regime for all my seeds........
standard commercial "seed raising mix" although I am picky about which
brand as I find some break down or compact too quickly) filled to about 1cm
from top of small pot.  The seeds are then sowed on top of this mix,
pressing gently but not covering with mix.  I then fill to the top of the
pot with 3-5mm gravel.  This gives about 1cm of gravel coverage which helps
to keep surface moist, insulate from heat and controls moss and other
covering nasties which always appear if gravel is not present.  This method
of sowing has worked for me on pretty much any genus (even including
Nerines and some of the other fleshy seeded amaryllids) and I am very
pleased with it.  If I am sowing seed of something that is likely to
germinate quickly I also include a bit of bulb food in the bottom third of
the pot so that the roots of the seedlings can find it once they have
developed sufficiently.  Those seeds that are likely to take ages to
germinate I do not bother doing this for as they obviously enough will not
be using it for a while by which time it will have leached out of the pot

So is this any help to anyone?  I have been rather pleased with just how
succesful the germination of Veltheimias have been for me, and particularly
as from 3 different sources.  Hopefully this will help others if it gives
some sort of pointer to something that might be working for me that they
haven't tried?  Worth a try anyway <grin>.


Paul Tyerman
Canberra, Australia.  USDA equivalent - Zone 8/9

Growing.... Galanthus, Erythroniums, Fritillarias, Cyclamen, Crocus,
Cyrtanthus, Oxalis, Liliums, Hellebores, Aroids, Irises plus just about
anything else that doesn't move!!!!!

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