Those wonderfuf Eucomis vandermerwei, redux
Wed, 02 Nov 2005 16:25:04 PST
Hi Gang,

I received seeds about 2 years ago, from an email garden friend I met through 
the PBS.  The seeds germinated easily under lights in winter and then I put 
them out for spring.  I seem to recall mentioning how easily they performed 
here in Houston, TX area.  I do recall  mentioning how attractive the spotted 
leaves are.   

They like Spring, they like Fall, but they went dormant the first summer (due 
to heat I suppose) and they went dormant in winter (because they are a summer 
bulb I suppose).  I think that summer in the highlands of South Africa is 
very different from summer in Houston; perhaps they went dormant because of the 
warm summer nights or because of the high humidity--or perhaps they went 
dormant in summer just to keep me guessing.  

This year, after the spring flush of growth, I left them outside in an area 
that was semi-protected from rain but which had warm nights (many nights over 
80 F [27 C]).  The bulbs went dormant and I sort of neglected/forgot about them 
(shame on me).

Recently, nighttime temperatures have lowered to about 2-10 C, (34 F to 40 F) 
on a few occasions.  The extra water from Hurricane Rita and the lower 
temperatures have caused a few Cape-type bulbs to send up shoots (some Nerines, a 
few Lachenalia).  But, E. vandermerwei is not a Cape bulb; it is a sturdy plant 
from summer rain regions of South Africa.  I think it is from high altitudes, 
so perhaps it can be expected to resent warm nights.

Nonetheless, E. vandermerwei is doing very well; they like their second 
"Spring of 2005" in Houston, and the little bulb-corm-like underground parts are 
nearly grape sized 24 months after sowing.  The leaves are 2-4 inches long, 
healthy and happy-appearing.  Who could have predicted that they would emerge in 
such good spirits after one of our hottest summers on record.  

I have taken a chance and have potted them up into larger pots (1 to 3 plants 
per 1-gallon can), and I used a different soil.  The seedlings were in very 
spare soil, with lots of perlite and coarse sand.  I have moved them into very 
fast-draining sandy, humusy soil.  Perhaps I should have left them in their 16 
oz. plastic cups, but I think they want to make roots and grow, grow, grow 
over these next few months (before they go dormant again in winter).  

Anyway, as I reported last year, these "summer plants" are two-season plants 
here along the humid and warm Gulf Coast of the USA.  They like spring, and 
they like fall.  They went dormant in mid-December last year (I think), but were 
quick to pop up in early Spring.  They seem to enjoy (or make use of) our two 
mild seasons and, so far don't resent the humidity and as long as they don't 
notice the humidity.  I confess to using a lawn fungicide to protect them from 
common soil fungi.  


Conroe Joe

Mild radiation frosts have happened several times over the past week.  Plants 
don't freeze and the lawn does not accumulate frost, but the cars and 
north-facing roofs have frost at sunup.  Day temperatures have climbed to 70-80 F 
(about 22-26 C) for the past week.  

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