C. variabile

J.E. Shields jshields@indy.net
Fri, 28 Jul 2006 06:00:19 PDT
Hi Joe and all,

My seeds of Crinum variabile came from Silverhill Seeds in 1997.  From 11 
seeds, I have 9 plants.  They were planted outdoors in the ground in 2000 
and 2001,  with first blooms following a year or two later.

They get normal water here in one spot, close to a greenhouse; in the 
other, they are in a bed with automatic irrigation 2 or 3 times a week.  In 
both locations, they are planted in highly improved garden soil, but their 
roots reach down to a clay subsoil.  Their natural habitat is in a very 
arid region, Namaqualand, where what rainfall there is comes in winter; but 
there, they tend to grow in wet spots.   In habitat, C. variabile blooms at 
end of summer and then the new leaves grow.  Here in warm, humid central 
Indiana, it is deciduous in winter and grows in summer and blooms, fully 
leafed out, in mid- to late summer (i.e., right now).

The flowers open almost pure white, but soon develop a rosy pink coloration 
with a broad, deeper rose band along the midrib of each tepal.  The umbel 
has about 12 buds, which seem to open 2 or 3 at a time.  I suppose the 
individual flowers last about as long as any other crinum here, but I 
haven't looked carefully at that.  I have uploaded an image to the Florapix 
Bulbs Gallery at:

The plants reach no more than 24 inches (60 cm.) in height, mostly 
less.  Scapes are erect as the first flowers open, but gradually lean.  The 
arching leaves are semi-erect to semi-recumbent, and spread so the plants 
are about 30 inches (75 cm.) across.  The plants are similar in size to C. 
graminicola and some of my moderate-size C. macowanii, so smaller than 
bulbispermum and larger than lugardiae.  Whereas bulbispermum in the ground 
here produces channeled leaves 4 to 5 feet long (120 to 150 cm.), 
variabile's leaves are 24 to 30 inches long (not counting the dead material 
at the tips).

By the way, I agree that C. x-powellii "Album" is a fine plant. One of 
mine, outdoors in the ground next to the greenhouse, has flowers open now 
on its fourth scape of the season.  A fine cultivar indeed!  It's time I 
propagated this variety.

Jim Shields
in rainy central Indiana (USA)

At 05:42 PM 7/27/2006 -0500, you wrote:
>Jim S. reports that C. variabile is hardy and floriferous.  I'm curious
>about the plants because I have some slowly growing along, from seeds
>purchased from Silverhill Seeds.  The plants do fine here in Texas, but
>seemed to grow better when I put them in large pots and gave them wet feet
>from time to time.  They also seem like a small species.
>Jim, do you grow in under special conditiosn (e.g., wet feet), or do you
>just give it good flowerbed-type care?
>How are the flowers, do they last, or do they fade in heat.
>Conroe TX

Jim Shields             USDA Zone 5             Shields Gardens, Ltd.
P.O. Box 92              WWW:    http://www.shieldsgardens.com/
Westfield, Indiana 46074, USA
Tel. ++1-317-867-3344     or      toll-free 1-866-449-3344 in USA

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