Slightly OT Serapias

Paul Tyerman
Thu, 23 Jun 2005 06:31:09 PDT
At 11:09  23/06/05, you wrote:
>Be of good cheer: minus 8 degrees C is actually closer to 20 degrees F, so
>these may be tougher than we expect.


Serapius lingua sails through winters down to -8'C here in Canberra without 
pause.  Never been a problem any year I have had them, multiplying steadily 
and flowering happily despite being in small (5 or 6") black plastic pots 
(which therefore magnify the cold to a certain degree... which means that 
in the ground they would take colder than -8'C I would imagine?) and 
hopelessly neglected some years.  I do repot them every couple of years 
because I feel sorry for them but they are left to themselves over summer 
generally and tend towards pretty dry (although most of my pots I do give 
at least some summer watering to).  -8'C is definitely not a problem to 
them at all, or at least it definitely hasn't been here any time in the 
last 7 or 8 years or so that I have been growing them (and one of those 
years I think we got down below -9 from memory).

I give them no special care or potting mix, just potting them up as I would 
any of my other bulbs.  I keep them out in full sun and they are definitely 
pots that are in an area that doesn't always get watered as much as some of 
my pots as I know they seem to like a dryish summer.  They don't seem to 
mind crowding and don't seem to mind if we get a wet period in winter while 
they are in full growth.  They are fully dormant in summer, with absolutely 
no evidence that there is anything in the pot, as they die down to similar 
tubers to many of the terrestrial orchids.  When repotting I give them some 
slow release bulb food and Saturaid to help in water penetration, but 
otherwise they get no liquid feeding or later top-dressing of fertiliser or 
anything like that.  They can grow quite happily for a couple of years 
without any fertilise obviously as I don't get them repotted every year and 
therefore they don't get any fresh fertiliser in those years I 
don't.  Doesn't bother them and doesn't affect flowering or offsetting as 
far as I can tell?

So the upshot is if you were expecting them to not be hardy to -8'C then 
either you have a strain that is cold sensitive, or else the ones in my 
garden have not read any of the gardening books and don't know that they 
shouldn't grow here.  Yes, I am a harsh man who doesn't let his plants do 
any reading of gardening reference books..... I prefer to keep them 
uninformed about what they should be preferring by way of environment! LOL

Hopefully some of the information above is of some use to someone out there 
reading this.  If there is anything I can clarify or expand on just 
ask.  Apologies if it does take me a bit of time to respond but I am not 
always using the computer at the moment because of ill health.... but I 
will respond when I get the chance.


Paul Tyerman
Canberra, Australia.  USDA equivalent - Zone 8/9 (Extremes approx 
40'C/summer and -8'C/winter)

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

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