Ipheion sellowiana

Tony Avent tony@plantdelights.com
Fri, 13 Apr 2007 12:01:49 PDT

I think you are right about it loving heat.  We're quite a bit hotter 
than you in summer and colder in winter, but Nothoscordum sellowianum is 
one of our favorite bulbs.  We have ours planted in a full sun rock berm 
(west-facing slope), amended with small gravel...no winter protection.  
I don't think we have dropped below 8 degrees F since we have grown it.  
I have also tried it in part day sun, but the results were less than 
satisfactory.  It flowers constantly from January through March.  It 
spreads very slowly and seems to be completely sterile.  We tried 
crossing it with N. dialystemon both ways and got no seed set.  I 
believe what is in the trade under these two names is all the same species.

Tony Avent
Plant Delights Nursery @
Juniper Level Botanic Garden
9241 Sauls Road
Raleigh, North Carolina  27603  USA
Minimum Winter Temps 0-5 F
Maximum Summer Temps 95-105F
USDA Hardiness Zone 7b
email tony@plantdelights.com
website  http://www.plantdelights.com/
phone 919 772-4794
fax  919 772-4752
"I consider every plant hardy until I have killed it myself...at least three times" - Avent

totototo@telus.net wrote:
> On 13 Apr 07, at 1:25, DaveKarn@aol.com wrote:
>> ...a large clump of Albert Castillo... did not appear one spring
>> after having been a mass of flowers the previous years.  I
>> despaired at having lost something that had considerable value to
>> me because of the source.  Then, inexplicably, the patch showed up
>> again a year later as if nothing had happened and just as
>> floriferous as ever.  Go figure! 
> A possible explanation is implicit in what follows:
> I have the tetramerous form of the bright yellow "Beauverdia 
> sellowiana", aka "Ipheion sellowianum", now considered (iirc) 
> Nothoscordum sellowianum. As this also came to me from Don Elick, now 
> many years ago, I value it greatly. I have always kept it out of 
> doors with only slight winter protection, at best a covered coldframe.
> One winter ten or fifteen years ago, we had a serious cold spell, as 
> we sometimes get thanks to outflows through river valleys of icy 
> Arctic air from the interior of the continent. My poor Beauverdia/ 
> Ipheion/Nothoscordum got caught in it and froze quite solid. [Memory 
> fails me, but I think I either had forgotten to cover the coldframe 
> or had left the pot simply sitting out in the open, possibly with 
> overhead protection from rain.]  
> The plant stopped growing. For some years, every spring I would unpot 
> it and examine the tubers. The larger ones (size of a garden pea) 
> remained sound, while the smaller ones gradually disappeared. But 
> there was no active growth whatsoever.
> No foliage, no root development, year after year. As everyone reading 
> can imagine, despair reigned, as the bulbs were irreplaceable.
> Somewhere on the internet, I ran across a mention of the importance 
> of warmth to South American amaryllids and decided to experiment. I 
> had nothing to lose the way things were going with fewer bulbs left 
> every year. I took the pot into the house and put it by a large south-
> facing window where it would bake in full sun nearly all day long and 
> the soil would warm up much more than outside. (Remember that we have 
> quite cool summers here -- air temperature over 70F is unusual and 
> cause for the population shedding all the clothes the law allows, or 
> even more.)
> The experiment was a success and the Beauverdia/Ipheion/Nothoscordum 
> started to grow actively. Ever since I have been careful to give it 
> winter protection from sub-freezing temperatures and it remains 
> actively alive, though it doesn't flower all that often.
> I speculate (emphasis on *speculate*) that this plant is native to a 
> fairly warm climate, that when exposed to serious cold it goes 
> dormant and the dormancy can only be broken by exposure to warmth -- 
> 70F being insufficient.
> A patch of a wild ipheion (or relative!) that goes dormant for a 
> season then returns in full vigor after a year below ground may 
> simply be reacting to a spell of unusually cold weather in a normally-
> warm climate.
> One infers that the native habitat, though warm, has infrequent 
> spells of much colder weather than normal, and this behavior is an 
> evolutionary adaptation allowing survival through short periods 
> (several years even) of lower temperatures than normal.
> I await comments from Alberto Castillo on the subject.

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