Offsets--Tecophilaea,Triteleia, Sparaxis

Mary Sue Ittner
Fri, 26 May 2006 08:02:53 PDT
Lee's question about growing from seed is a very interesting one. He has 
told us in the past about how his Tecophilaea plants divide each year so 
that he has more and more of them. I have been able to germinate the seed I 
got from Bill Dijk and to grow it on, but my seedlings do not offset much 
at all and they have been very slow to bloom. Like John L. I have not been 
heavy on the fertilizer however. I've lost a few from the first year 
(normal for me for a lot of seedlings), but not many after that. I've now 
got all three varieties to bloom from seed, but never have massive blooming 
like Bill Dijk gets and even my mature bulbs do not offset much.

I grow a lot of Triteleia and some of it offsets wildly. Recently when I 
added pictures of corms to the wiki Triteleia page I illustrated that. On 
the other hand others offset very little or not at all. Some times within a 
species I have forms that offset and some that do not. I was interested in 
Jan's comment that the Trieleia ixioides from Table Mountain that the 
Robinetts called 'Tiger' and my field guide from Table Mountain called ssp. 
unifolia (a subspecies not recognized by Jepson) did not offset for him. I 
looked at my records and found that to be true for me as well. I also get 
very few offsets from T. ixioides ssp. anilina, but most of the subspecies 
I grow offset to various degrees. T. ixioides ssp. anilina is a bulb I grow 
that surprises me like Lee's examples since I don't chill it and it comes 
back every year for me and blooms even though in nature it would be under 
snow and here it is being overwhelmed with rainfall. It doesn't often 
appear until January or February when all the other Triteleias have been 
growing for months however. I've had more  trouble growing it from seed 
than the others but finally have a few seedlings and maybe an offset or two 
so at last many many years later I have more than the original three I 
purchased from the Robinetts. But it's been a slow process.

A number of years ago I grew Sparaxis hybrids from seed. The variety of 
colors and markings that resulted was really fun. A few of them have never 
had offsets, whereas with some of the others each corm would produced three 
or four new ones each year. Diana Chapman has noted that some of her forms 
of Oxalis obtusa offset more than others.

Whether a Calochortus forms bulbils or not is sometimes used as one of the 
ways to tell the species apart.

I'm wondering if the ability to offset which would be an advantage if you 
are selling bulbs, but I often feel is not a desirable trait once you have 
as many plants as you want is considered a reliable way of distinguishing 
species. Would Lee's Tecophilaea that offset look different with DNA 
testing than some that did not?

Mary Sue

At 12:47 AM 5/26/2006 -0700, you wrote:
>I know that many people recommend starting new, unfamiliar, or
>unusual species from seeds rather than from mature bulbs for a
>variety of good reasons, including things like freedom from viruses,
>the plant gets to adapt to your own particular climate starting from
>birth so to speak, no need for changing hemispheres for seeds from
>the opposite hemisphere, etc.
>I've started many different species from seeds over the years and
>have had great success.
>However, there seem to be the odd few where I have been spectacularly
>unsuccessful trying to start them from seeds while  simultaneously
>and sometimes surprisingly having had no problems growing them
>starting with an already mature bulb.
>For example, it is almost embarrassingly easy for me to grow and
>multiply the various varieties of Tecophilaea cyanocrocus starting
>from just one bulb each. I treat them virtually identically to how I
>treat my Cape Bulbs on an annual basis. I've germinated seeds of T.
>cyanocrocus a number of times, and I germinate and grow them with my
>other Cape Bulb seeds that I'm germinating and growing. However,
>unlike the mature bulbs pots where each fall it seems that each bulb
>has added 2 or more additional offsets, very few to none of my pots
>of T. cyanocrocus seedlings bother to emerge in the fall/winter even
>though their neighbor Cape Bulb seedlings return to growth just fine.
>The few Tecos that do return grow just fine, but then finally
>disappear the second summer never to be seen again.
>  From a different land of origin, Central Asia (aka the "-stan"
>countries), come some desirable bulbs. I debated even trying any of
>them because even though their springs, summers, and falls appear
>climatically similar to southern California's springs, summers, and
>falls. Their winters are much colder, freezing in fact, because of
>the very high elevations in that area. I've tried several different
>species from seeds from different sources several different times,
>and either because they need to be stratified or need the freezing
>winters, or something else?, they never germinate. However, in the
>case of two, the opportunity arose to obtain a mature bulb of each.
>These were Colchicum luteum and C. kesselringii. They both grew and
>bloomed their first year, but of course I expected that. But they
>have come back for two more years and both bloomed again each time.
>And they appear to be slowly getting larger in size. They both appear
>about halfway through our (relatively mild) winters. I've never
>gotten seeds of either of these to germinate.
>So I wonder what other bulbs might not germinate under my conditions,
>but the bulbs, if germinated and grown to maturity elsewhere, will
>find my conditions acceptable or even likeable to grow in and
>multiply once they get past a certain indeterminate stage?
>Have others experienced similar or analogous results with other
>species? Any good explanations as to why?
>--Lee Poulsen
>Pasadena, California, USA, USDA Zone 10a
>pbs mailing list

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