jim lykos
Thu, 01 Dec 2011 22:39:44 PST
HI Leo,

It sounds like you have almost ideal conditions for growing some 
Calostemma's in the ground and your mediterranean climate is likely to be a 
beneficial factor in providing a natural dry period and dormancy. 
Calostemma lutea  mainly grows in drainage ditches in flood plain areas, 
they grow in black mud and heavy clay soils and in wet years they can 
innudated for lengthy periods in standing water. As Rob mentioned in an 
earlier email - they  need to be grown with a pot in the saucer but not for 
the whole year (they lose their leaves and are dormant in winter/spring) - 
If pot grown they should be kept dry from late spring mid summer. Its the 
presence of rain showers or a short rain storm in mid to late summer after a 
period of dryness that initiates flowering. So if you are using pot culture 
place a  saucer underneath the pot from mid summer.

Calostemma purpurea however requires a change in culture - in the wild C. 
purpurea usually grows in hilly ridge areas with stony soils of sandy clay 
to silty loam - usually those soils that dry like cement in summer. The 
regions they grow in usually have from 10 to 20 inches of annual rainfall. 
They will fade away if grown in sandy or composted commercial potting mixes 
as the signal to initiate leaf growth may be missed. The purple/red  and 
pink colour forms of Calostemma  also grow in the alluvial soils near 
epthermal streams in the flood plain regions.

To my dismay a couple of years ago I  lost a number of Calostemma specimens 
in a collection that  covered about 20 herbarium sites from three Australian 
states by using inappropriate potting mixes, and not watering them in time 
during a drought to initiate leaf growth.  I have since found that the red 
and pink colour forms of Calostemmas grow well on sloping garden beds with 
underlying chips of sandstone in full sun and that growing them this way has 
minimized  losses of bulbs and obtain reliable yearly flowering.
Blue Mountains Australia

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Leo A. Martin" <>
To: <>
Sent: Friday, December 02, 2011 12:08 PM
Subject: [pbs] Calostemmas

> Yes, behind the times...
> Grown in the ground, do Calostemma tolerate any summer water at all?
> I killed my first one by leaving the pot outside in the shade during our
> warm summer (104 F / 40C and above for several months.) The next two I
> have kept alive by bringing into the house for the summer, but they don't
> bloom.
> We don't get a lot of summer rain and some mediterranean-climate plants
> don't mind the small amount we do get.
> Another problem I have is soil, or lack therof. My "garden soil" is rocks
> separated by traces of dust. Excellent drainage!
> Leo Martin
> Phoenix Arizona USA
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> pbs mailing list

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