Mary Sue Ittner
Thu, 14 Dec 2006 16:38:18 PST

I planted Massonia echinata in one of my raised beds in Northern 
California. It was in a pot in the bed, but essentially exposed to the 
elements. I wouldn't say that we are cold (down to freezing temperatures a 
number of times a year, but generally the ground doesn't freeze.) I didn't 
lose my plants, but they were definitely unhappy and after one year I moved 
them. We get a lot of rain and days of high humidity in between when it can 
be gloomy and foggy in December and January and these kind of conditions 
contribute to disease.  We also get wind, but apparently this is not enough 
to overcome the other. I concluded that Massonias and Polyxenas in my 
climate needed more protection, especially since many bloom early. These 
same conditions led me to start Calochortus seeds in late January or 
February after years of getting good germination in December followed by 
losing all my seedlings. Since adopting this practice I've had greater 

In a post from 2003 from Gordon Summerfield's IBSA talk from the Bulb 
Symposium that year he wrote:
"Where one experiences heavy night/early morning dew, it is advisable to 
grow the softer leafed species, such as Daubenya's,
Lachenalia's, Gethyllis, Massonia's as well as certain Freesia's, Romulea's 
and Geissorhiza's amongst others, under cover. However, always ensuring that
there is sufficient natural light and good, free air movement.  I certainly 
have enjoyed far greater success since adopting this approach.  it has
reduced incidences of crown rot, Botrytis and Fusarium infections to almost 

Even with overhead cover and open air around them, Lachenalias, Polyxenas, 
Massonias, my one Androcymbium can get fungal diseases. I don't find that 
so true of the irids I grow, although the leaves of Tritonias and Ixias in 
a wet year that lasts and lasts can be unsightly by the time they bloom. 
The flowers of everything are at risk when we have days of wet weather on 
end like we've recently had. So it's not just the temperature that you need 
to consider. You also have to consider humidity. Some of the South African 
bulbs flower with only inches of rainfall in their native habitat. My 
greenhouse is full of plants that can tolerate the cold temperatures we get 
but not the wet and cold together.

I've read that global warming can lead to no rainfall some places and 
excessive rainfall other places. Unlike Italy and France, I'd say this fall 
has been pretty typical although we did have warmer temperatures for part 
of the summer before settling into our usual pattern.

Mary Sue

Mary Sue Ittner
California's North Coast
Wet mild winters with occasional frost
Dry mild summers 

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