SA Bulbs

Fri, 23 May 2008 20:19:04 PDT
Cyphias are wonderful plants, scarcely known in cultivation anywhere. A
majority if not all  are indeed geophytes and die back each season to a
subglobose, thin-skinned tuber that resembles a potato; it can be difficult
to see which end is up when transplanting. They are not difficult to grow
and suffer cramped conditions in pots quite well, reliably returning each
season for years. Their main drawback perhaps is their inconspicuousness and
small size-- they are not suitable for average garden situations.

Besides the rather drab but medicinally useful C. elata (one of the summer
rainfall species), I have only winter growing species and I give them all
the same treatment: a bone dry rest from April-May to Oct-Nov and some shade
while growing, with something to twine through. They will scramble happily
if they cannot climb. Some species have upright stems but most seem to be
delicate twiners. Their small flowers are sometimes produced in numbers
enough to attract attention and individually are worth close inspection.
Both the twining habit and tuberous rootstock make Cyphia unusual among the
lobelioid group of the Campanulaceae.

Dylan Hannon
Dylan Hannon Rare Bulbs

On Fri, May 23, 2008 at 2:41 PM, <> wrote:

> The appearance of Karla Chandler on the scene prompts me to ask for info
> about a South African bulb...if it is a bulb!  I had no such expectation of
> Cyphia digitata (Lobeliaceae) when I grew it from seed, but when all my
> plants spontaneously lost their foliage as summer approached, I was wary
> enough to empty out the pots, and there were storage organs that looked very
> like bulbs.
> My questions: A. Is this species considered a geophyte (how not, I
> suppose)?
> B. How complete a summer rest does it need?  I lost a couple last summer
> and could not tell if it was from too much or too little moisture.
> The top-growth is wispy and clearly intended to scramble up available
> support.  It is described as a grassland species that bears blue flowers in
> winter.
> Jim Jones
> Lexington, MA Z5-6
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