Oh No! A Boophone disaster!

Jacob Knecht jacobknecht@gmail.com
Sat, 03 Oct 2009 21:41:48 PDT
Hi Ken,

Your zeal for propagation is fantastic.

I experienced a similar problem on my *Clinanthus variegatus* 'yellow' that
had grown vigorously for years and filling its 1 gallon pot with pups and
roots.  Late this spring I noticed a rather rapid decline and then the bulbs
became loose.  I was surprised to see that nearly all had lost their roots
to some sort of rot, caused by breakdown of its growing medium.  I think the
'composting' of my potting medium [even though it was 50% black cinder
(scoria, lava rock)] was due to and was accelerated by the high humidity and
high levels of rainfall that I have in the location I have been living in
for the past 10 months (average 70% relative humidity & 3,050mm/120 in pa
precipitation).  Thankfully the rot had not yet damaged the basal plates of
the bulbs so I cleaned their bases and dipped them in a Daconil/Dithane
(fungicide) solution and let them dry and callous for a week or two before
re-potting into pure pumice.  It took a few months of watering very
sparingly and being patient for the bulb to resume leaf growth only a week

Because potting media can go sour very quickly under warm and humid
conditions, I am now in the process of moving all my plants belonging to
Amaryllidaceae, Hyacinthaceae and Themidaceae into pure pumice or into
others that are high in pumice and other non-organic components to prevent
this in the future.  Some may consider my choice of media a tad on the
extreme, but the choice is in harmony with my growing conditions.  As long
as my plants are in active growth and have excellent drainage and the roots
have sufficient gas exchange, it hardly matters how much it rains.

Although losing so many roots may set your *Boophone* back, as long as their
basal plates are intact, I think they will be fine.  However I would repot
them into a medium that has a high gas exchange to moisture retention ratio,
and water sparingly until they have shown a positive response with new leaf
growth (usually predicated by new roots).

Jacob Uluwehi Knecht
Honolulu, Hawai'i

2009/10/3 Ken <kjblack@pacbell.net>

> I was a bit alarmed when about half of my 2-year old seedlings, the result
> of crossing a Winter growing Boophone disticha with a Summer growing bulb of
> the same species, started declining.  Leaf growth had stopped and withered
> ... and the bulbs seemed to be loose in the container's soil.  I had been
> watering very lightly during the summer, except I gave them a thorough
> drenching a month ago before making a trip away ... evidently, a big
> mistake!  The weather was apparently hot while I was away with many days in
> the upper 80s and low 90s, and continued after my return until recently.
> Removing the soil from the 'loose' bulbs revealed the roots had rotted.
> Roots of those that remained solidly fixed in the soil appeared OK.  All my
> seedlings of the reverse cross ... Summer X Winter growers ... appear to be
> OK also.  I plan to dust these with Sulphur and place in dry soil, in hopes
> they will reroot.  Any other advice would be greatly appreciated.
> http://www.flickr.com/photos/amarguy/3978413995/
> Ken
> San Diego
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