When plants bloom

Mary Sue Ittner msittner@mcn.org
Wed, 06 Jun 2007 20:51:26 PDT

I know lots of exceptions to Jim McKenney's remark that "Most plants bloom 
at the beginning of the growing season, and their developing seeds have the 
advantage of clement conditions. " How can you assume that the best 
conditions for developing seeds is in the beginning?  Climates around the 
world are so varied. There are Amaryllid species in the winter rainfall of 
South Africa that bloom before their leaves or with their leaves which 
works as the seeds start to grow right away and need the winter rain to 
keep them going. But some seeds need a long dry period to season or would 
rot if they were formed during the wettest time of their growth period. And 
there might not be any pollinators about in that kind of weather either. In 
California, a lot of the native bulbs I grow bloom after their leaves have 
withered when there is a better chance for them to be pollinated and when 
the seeds won't be ruined by the weather. There are winter rainfall South 
African Irids I grow that bloom at the start of the growing season, in the 
middle, and in the end. Most of the ones I grow show up from September to 
October. Some bloom before their leaves, but most of them don't start 
blooming until February or March. Others bloom in April. Many Tritonia and 
Ixia species aren't in bloom until May and there are Gladiolus species just 
opening now. Where I live most native plants don't bloom at the beginning 
of the growing season. The peak wildflower season here is late April to May 
extending to June some years if there are late rains. But if you count the 
growing season as starting with the first rains, that would be late fall, 
and there are very few native plants that are in bloom then. Maybe this is 
just typical of a Mediterranean climate and Jim's rule applies to other 
climates. How about some of the rest of you around the world? When in their 
growing season do plants bloom where you live?

Mary Sue

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