Mary Sue Ittner
Mon, 19 Jul 2004 08:11:42 PDT
Dear Jim (McK.),

People on our list often grow plants you wouldn't think they could and you 
are one of them. So perhaps you could grow Gethyllis. As I have mentioned 
before Peter Knippels has written a book about growing bulbs indoors in the 
Netherlands. He grows things under lights in a cool unheated room. He 
listed Gethyllis as a plant for the experience grower since it is one of 
the more difficult to grow. He describes two species, so perhaps these are 
the two he grows:
G. afra and G. ciliaris.

What I found very interesting about what he is written is his description 
of when everything happens. Like Bob Werra's experience, in cultivation 
Peter's plants behave a bit differently than plants in the wild. I find 
this very fascinating. His chart shows that his plants flower in May and 
the leaves are produced shortly afterwards. The plant stays in leaf through 
October and then goes dormant (the leaves die back.) One wonders whether 
when he wrote his book if his plants had not changed over to the right 
hemisphere or if the f in his key which normally stands for flower, means 
fruit. Something doesn't seem quite right. Perhaps I'll email him and see 
if they have remained under this strange cycle. According to his chart he 
starts to water when the plant flowers (which Gordon said not to do), 
waters more from June to September as the plant is in growth, cuts back in 
October and does not water at all when dormant. He grows his plants in 
mostly sand and advises against removing the dried leaves as that could 
damage the bulb.

So we now have many different versions of when this plant grows.
South African experience from Rachel and Gordon:
Leaves appear in autumn, die back in spring when the rain slows, flower 
appears in summer briefly, fruit appears 3-4 months later in the autumn, 
after seed production the leaves appear again
Bob Werra--leaves appear in winter, flowering takes place after the leaves 
of the plant have withered a couple of months later in summer, no fruiting 
yet (If his plants had fruits would they start to grow sooner?)
Rob Hamilton's seedlings in Australia--two of his species grew normally the 
first year and in the second year the leaves appeared in summer and 
continued to grow through spring. The third seedling species was dormant 
for 18 months after it initially germinated and then started growing in winter
Peter Knippel's indoor plants in the Netherlands--start into leaf in spring 
at the time the plant flowers and grow through fall when the plants go dormant

Leo Martin grows this species in Arizona, but he has not rejoined our list 
since he went on vacation, but I'll cc. him in case he wants to add his 
experience. In February he wrote us about his concern about his seedlings 
which had come up in July (after he had received them) grown on through his 
hot summer and gone dormant early fall. He wrote then: "With the onset of 
cooler weather in November they began growing again. But rather than all 
sprouting at once, a few will sprout, grow for a few weeks, and then die 
back. A few more then sprout. I don't know if the ones that die back are 
dead or not." Perhaps he can give us an update.

My archives note that Bill Dijk and Paul Tyerman both had seeds germinate 
so it would be interesting to hear what has happened to them since. Dash 
grows these in Australia and Rhoda has grown them too. Would you please 
share your experiences with us?

Gary Buckley wrote a very interesting article about this genus on Suite 101 
in February 1999. His experience was very similar to Gordon and Rachel's.

Peter Maynard was growing Gethyllis in 2000. Do you still grow it Peter and 
has it ever bloomed?

In another post I'll address the temperature issue that Jim asked about.

Mary Sue

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