Mature Ammocharis bulb

African Bulbs
Mon, 29 May 2006 00:34:08 PDT
We can comment on John Ingram's reluctant mature Ammocharis bulb.  We have experience of replanting mature Ammocharis coranica bulbs that were washed out by soil erosion after severe storms.  Firstly, they take a long time to settle down in a new environment - especially in containers.  Secondly I don't believe they like to have their bulbs exposed.  In nature Ammocharis bulbs are below the ground surface - with just the neck and leaves on the surface.  Since they prefer seasonally wet habitats, watering is not a particular issue.  They are very adaptable in this respect and can tolerate long periods of drought alternating with equally long periods of moist conditions.  We find that they survive very well in a normal nursery watering regime - all year round - even in winter although they are naturally summer growing.  In these conditions they are almost evergreen, and stop growing only occasionally for a rest, when their leaves dry off.  They soon commence growing again.

In their natural habitats, which vary from seasonally very wet to arid conditions, they always grow in colonies in water courses, seepage areas and seasonally damp areas.  They are absolutely opportunistic so far as leaf growth and flowering are concerned.  In regions of regular summer rainfall their main growing and flowering time is from early to mid-summer  and they go dormant in winter in the dry season and can tolerate quite severe degrees of frost at this time.  We have yet to discover the trigger mechanism for flowering.  There is no clear pattern.  Flowering is at the best of times very sporadic and individual plants do not flower every year . Certainly flowering can be stimulated by burning, but sometimes this even fails to result in flowering.  In the vast populations that do occur in the wild the usual pattern is for odd individuals to flower occasionally, but when conditions are just right (maybe good rains followed by warm weather),  mass flowering can result with spectacular displays of thousands of blooms.  So it is clear that there are always buds within the bulb waiting for the right trigger - what it is we have not been able to discover.

We have a number of mature bulbs in containers and they are more shy to flower than those in open ground.  While leaf growth is normal, sometimes years go by before one will reward us with a flower

Not much help I'm afraid 

Rhoda and Cameron McMaster
African Bulbs
PO Box 26, Napier 7270
Tel/Fax: 028 423 3651


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