Growing Cybistetes etc.

Jim Lykos
Thu, 19 May 2005 23:26:49 PDT
Hi Kevin,

I have grown five C. macowanii from three different sources to flowering stage and have found that there is considerable variation in the flower colour distribution, flowering habit and that fertility is based on a number of cultural variables. The flower count seems to be based on the maturity and size of the bulb, so each successive year I see  more flowers on each umbel - the best yet being around 22 flowers.

The colour varies as you have noted from  white flowers to those with light or dark rosy flower reverses, and a faint rose stripe on the inner surface of the flower. One macowanii has flowers  that open in a dropping (nutans) fashion - while most tend to open in a semi erect fashion and then drupe as they age or are pollinated,  however one remains semierect.
Fertility I have found is remarkably good on a mature plant, but in the first and sometimes second year of flowering the plants dont seem inclined to set seed and when they do after hand pollination the seed count remains low.  However the most mature plant will be heavy with seed on almost all the flowers.

Some plants have the typical urn shaped flowers with reflexed tepal tips but with maturity in subsequent seasons these will tend to open more widely. However, I have one plant that has the habit of opening  out  very widely with reflexed tepals.
The most mature of the macowanii's in my collection, has increased the number of scapes each subsequent season - and is up to sending out 5 this past  season. However,  a new inflorescence will cause the previous one to abort its seed.
Due to drought conditions in eastern Australia,  this year I diverted laundry water from the washing machine to nearby garden plants - and I  think its this frequent inundation of the C. macowanii  which is growing in clay rich B soil horizon, which acts as the trigger for its repeat flowering.

C. macowanii  is found over so many countries in southern to central Africa that I imagine that there is a complex array of geographical varieties - and that we will be pleasantly surprised by these  differences as we flower more of these large Crinum gems. The only drawback with the species is that it seems to take at least 8 years to flower from seed! 

Jim Lykos 
Blue Mountains - Sydney

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