Massonia - planting depth

Leo A. Martin
Mon, 23 Oct 2006 15:27:51 PDT
Brian Whyer wrote

> Soon it will be massonia flowering time here (UK)
> and I have just noticed a bulb acquired as M. depressa
> budded for the first time, but the 3/8" diameter bud
> is over an inch down a funnel formed by the young leaves.
> M. pustulata which is also in bud is in a much shallower
> pot and has the "normal" bud and leaves flat and level
> with the soil surface.
> Is the M. depressa planted much too deeply?
> I can remove some of the soil without any problem as
> the leaves are still fairly small.
> Buckinghamshire, England, zone ~8

There are few bulbs as dramatic as a properly-grown Massonia in bloom.

I live in a climate that permits growing Massonia outdoors during their
normal growing season, and I have been growing them successfully for a few
years now.

I wouldn't repot a Massonia in active growth. I would expect your M.
depressa bud will break surface and bloom normally.

These are not good bulbs for shallow pots unless you wish to bonsai them
or you just don't have any space. With the proper pot and heavy watering,
one can expect a bulb the size of a large pea to produce two leaves, each
of which is far larger than a standard salad plate. However, they are very
forgiving, and they will easily grow and bloom in smaller pots. If you
have limited space, use a narrow but deep pot.

I grow mine in what is called a "standard 1-gallon" black plastic nursery
pot here in the USA. These pots are cylinders about 20 cm in diameter and
about 25cm high. They hold about 3 quarts, or 3 liters, of soil mix. I
find Massonia are not as particular about soil as some bulbs, but I have
had success with half local soil and half perlite. I fertilize quite a bit
as well, with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer.

If I receive dormant bulbs in the summer, I immediately plant them in such
a pot about an inch deep (2.5cm.) They will pull themselves to the
preferred depth over the course of a season. I leave less space between
the soil surface and the pot rim than with most plants, since the leaves
normally lie flat on the ground, and

I then water once and set the pot in the shade. When cool nights arrive, I
put the pot out in the full sun and water once, heavily. They usually
begin growing. Then I keep them moist.

Many are self-fertile. Let the seeds ripen in the spring, and save them.
Sow the following fall when days are warm and nights cool. Cover with 1/2"
or 1cm sand and keep them moist.

Leo Martin
Phoenix Arizona USA

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