Bessera elegans, Alophia drummondii

Joe Shaw
Sun, 20 Aug 2006 15:47:02 PDT
Hi Gang,


Bessera elegans is blooming for the first time for me.  I have been 
delighted with the plants so far.  I got small bulbs from an email friend 
last spring.  I put them out and then forgot about them, after a time they 
put up some bits of leaf and I set them in a 2-gallon container with Aloe 
plants of similar container size.  I let the rain water them in spring and I 
did feed them lightly once or twice.

It has been a very hot summer, with 2 dry spells and I have not provided 
supplemental water.

Yesterday I saw a bloom, and now I know why folks would grow this plant. 
The bloom it not large, but it is beautiful and an attractive scarlet, a bit 
brighter than oxblood lily.  I think these are worth increasing for front 
porch pot culture and summer bloom.  I hope they survive the winter; if they 
don't mind the winter rain the ground doesn't freeze.


I saw the note about Alophia blooming.  The plants I have are generally 
locally collected and I scarcely notice them most of the year, if at all. 
The are found in east Texas and south Texas, and nearby areas, but I have 
always found them in sandy soil, very sandy soil.  The soil may or may not 
have lots of humus, but it is always sandy and very quick draining. 
Therefore, I have planted my own plants in similar soil in pots with Agave 
or Aloe, etc., or else I have put them in elevated beds of sandy soil.

It is very true that the blooms are ephemeral; I drove home one day for 
lunch, hoping to get a photo of an open bloom I had seen in the morning. 
The bloom was history by 12:30 p.m; so beautiful and well worth growing, bus 
so ephemeral.  The plants make seed easily, a single flower will set 20-30 
or more seeds, but they are reluctant to germinate for me unless I leave 
them outside over the winter in a 1- or 2-gallon container of very sandy 
soil--in which case germination is easy.

For me, in this climate, I have never seen the plants blooming after July. 
They seem to do their best in May, and can repeat in June or July (but not a 
lot of repeat).  I wonder if the repeat bloom may not have been an offset or 
a seedling beside the mother plant; they are small plants and I haven't paid 
a lot of attention to them buried as they are in spiny plants.  Mostly, they 
are just a delightful part of the "cover crop" I try to keep growing on 
large containers to provide a bit of shade (things like sedums, dryland 
sedges, or a semi-weedy annual Portulaca).


Still hot, but not 100 plus any longer.

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