scilla madeirensis
Mon, 30 May 2011 15:35:00 PDT
Dear All,

Scilla madeirensis is certainly one of the most beautiful winter
flowering bulbs..... if it flowers and grows well. Apparently this bulb
has such a narrow genetic constitution that is on the brink of
extinction in the wild. It is almost sterile and even wild plants are
said to produce no or very little seed. The reason for this is not known
as far as I am aware of. I wonder what you got as seed under this name.
There were some bulbs for sale when I was in Madeira many years ago and
I bought 2 or three, hoping to have different clones and to get
seed..... but no. I think there was one single seed in all these years
but the seedling did not live very long.
I find this bulb very difficult to grow. It is one of those plants that
is always missing something: it is either too wet or too dry, too cold
or too warm or too  bright or too shady. Madeira has a very mild cool
moist oceanic climate without extemes , so probably my greenhouse gets
too hot in summer. I am sure it is NOT frost-hardy, my plants go limp
and floppy even a few degrees above freezing.
At Mike Salmon's former nursery in Britain I have seen a magnificent
plant in bloom a long time ago, something you immediatey would want to
grow at first sight. But Mike had no seed, no offsets. If I remember
correctly this plant in all parts was much much bigger than my own bulbs
even during their best days. I have a feeling that it is a different
plant, a different form of the same species or even another relates
species. Mike's plant was even bigger than than the ones at Kew but I do
not remember where he got it from.
Maybe it is simply virused? And lacking and losing vigour this way? I
saw huge clumps in many Madeiran garden, but it was not the season for
flowers. If it never sets seed, the only means of propagation is
vegetatively which would ease the spread of virus. Maybe this would be
an interesting object for a good micro-propagator?

Greetings from summery hot and VERY dry Germany    Uli

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