Tropaeolum notes

Jane McGary
Fri, 11 Jan 2008 15:56:42 PST
Some time back forum member Bill Dijk wrote an interesting note about the 
cultivation of small tuberous Tropaeolum species. I saved his contribution 
and would like to ask him if we can use a version of it in the Rock Garden 
Quarterly, but unfortunately his address didn't get saved with the text. 
Would Bill please write to me directly about this?

Incidentally, Tropaeolum tricolor in my bulb frame has worked its way out 
of the covering lights and has extended its stem onto the superstructure of 
the frame, despite occasional frost and far too much rain. So far the 
exposed part shows no damage.

I wonder if anyone has successfully propagated these plants by cutting the 
tuber (which looks like a little potato). I've just been growing them from 
seed, which they set in small quantities. The seeds have elaiosomes (fleshy 
bits on the tip) that apparently attract ants, because volunteer seedlings 
appear some distance from the parent plants in the frames. The tubers must 
have contractile roots when in growth, because they can be found at 
considerable depth. I like them very much, despite their propensity to try 
to strangle any other plant within reach. The best defense is to give them 
a support when planting the dormant tubers and make sure they stay on it.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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