Hardiness of ixia and Sparaxis

Jim McKenney jimmckenney@starpower.net
Tue, 04 Apr 2006 12:10:43 PDT
Adam, before I joined this list two years ago - which is to say before I was
much aware of the variety of temptations in the southern African flora - I
tried various commercial strains of Ixia, Sparaxis, Freesia and Homeria (as
they were then called). 

My experiences suggested that there were at least two problems to be solved
before they would be successful under garden conditions in cold winter
areas. Because the corms were typically available in the spring, first year
results were sometimes fair if the corms were planted as soon as available. 

But as you probably know from reading the postings on this list, most
successful growers have their plants blooming during relatively cool
weather. Spring planted corms here on the east coast come into bloom as the
weather is getting very hot here, and the flowers suffer from that. 

But there is a bigger problem. In my experience, these plants are rigidly
stuck on a winter growing cycle. As a result, spring-planted corms grow,
bloom more or less well, become dormant, but then almost immediately come
back into growth in the early autumn. Spring-planted Ornithogalum thyrsoides
here started to produce new growth as the last of the flowers faded. Even
digging the bulbs and attempting to dry them did not stop this growth. 

They then go into the winter full of new, soft growth, and suffer severely
if they survive at all.

In my experience, the problem with these plants is not simply that they are
or are not hardy; the real problem is that they are inveterate winter

Not all of the plants you mentioned are winter growers. I think you will
discover that it is often possible - by deep mulching and thoughtful
positioning - to bring anything through the winter outside as long as it is
dormant. Eucomis and Crinum should respond well to deep mulching. But the
winter growers will defeat you - or at any rate, they defeated me. 

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where the rain last night
brought out the toads; they were in full chorus late last night. 

More information about the pbs mailing list