Ungernia befuddlement

Lee Poulsen wpoulsen@pacbell.net
Tue, 04 Aug 2009 10:37:21 PDT
With all this talk of Lycoris, I thought I'd ask if anyone knows what  
the growing cycle for Ungernias in captivity should be. I'm pretty  
sure now that I have 3-4 year old seedlings of U. oligostroma (syn.  
minor), U. severzowii, and U. sp. from seeds I got from J. J. Halda.  
They come from pretty high elevations in Central Asia, but all the  
weather records I've looked at for that region bear a passing  
resemblance (other than the freezing cold snow-covered winters!) to  
the climate here in Calif., so I thought I would try them. (Hot dry  
rainless summers, rain and growth in the spring only after the snow  
melts, cool dry autumns.)

So I thought I should leave them exposed to the temperatures outside  
in the winter but protect them completely from the rain during early  
and mid-winter. Then expose them to the rain starting in late winter  
(Feb.) and water them during the spring when they should sprout and  
grow. When they start to die down as it's getting hot when summer  
comes, I would stop all water and let them stay outdoors still, but  
completely dry, leaving them that way during autumn and then covering  
them before the first rains came again.

Well, they seem to want to grow whenever they feel like it, even  
whether I start watering them or not. One year, one of them leafed out  
in the autumn and grew until mid-winter before finally dying down. (I  
always stop water from getting to them for a few months when they  
finally die down and go dormant regardless of season.) The next year a  
couple of them leafed out in spring as I expected and died down in  
early summer. Now this year, none of them leafed out during spring.  
But just as it was starting to warm up at the beginning of summer and  
I was going to check to see if the bulbs were still there, two of them  
leafed out, so I kept watering them and watered the third one as well.  
About a month later (which was a month ago) the third one leafed out.  
And now, here it is the hottest part of the summer and they're all  
leafed out and apparently doing fine. (I do have them on the east side  
of my house where they only get the cooler morning sun.)

And they do seem to be getting marginally larger leaved each time they  
leaf out. So do any of the experts (Are there such things as Ungernia  
experts?) have any good suggestions about how I can be a little more  
certain I'm not going to cause them to rot to death by applying water  
at the wrong season? Because I can't figure them out. I've got them  
growing in small but relatively long deep pots (10 cm x 10 cm x 20 cm  
deep) in sandy gravelly soil with lots of drainage and they seem to  
like it, and I feed them with a slow release fertilizer shortly after  
the leaves first appear.

--Lee Poulsen
Pasadena, California, USA - USDA Zone 10a

More information about the pbs mailing list