Tecophilaea Cyanocrocus

Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Sat, 03 Sep 2011 09:55:15 PDT
At 01:46 PM 9/2/2011, you wrote:
> >  It makes me wonder why they are so expensive.

They're so expensive because (a) they don't produce "numerous" 
offsets -- I would say two offsets per bulb in a year is the most 
I've seen here -- but mostly because they are written about in 
horticultural literature in such a way as to weave a mystique around 
the species, so growers can charge whatever they want for them. (Cf. 
Galanthus reginae-olgae.) The flowers are very lovely, especially the 
selections that are nearly all blue, and anyone who sees them at a 
show wants them immediately (so immediately that I've been tempted to 
tie down a pot with a bicycle lock).

The best way to increase Tecophilaea cyanocrocus, I believe, is by 
seed. Seedlings can flower in the third year. Joshua wrote that he 
had read they produce "a copious amount of seed," but this is 
misleading: few capsules contain more than 9 seeds.

SOmeone wrote that "subsp. leichtlinii" increases faster than the 
"typical" (mostly blue) form, but I haven't found that to be so. 
Moreover, from descriptions of the rediscovered wild populations, it 
seems that the white-centered "leichtlinii" is likely to be just 
representative of the normal range of color variation, and in fact is 
said to be the more common in naturally occurring populations. I 
suspect that gardeners selected out the dark blue forms, which are 
more striking.

My plants, which stem from three bulbs bought around 1990, have gone 
through many periods of temperatures around 20 F in cold frames and 
now in a mesh-sided bulb house. I've also grown pots of the species 
in a frost-free solarium, but they did not flower well there and 
became etiolated. They seem to flower best and appear most in 
character when grown "hard."

The description of the wild habitat published several years ago in 
the Chilean botanical journal Gayana reminded me of the habitats of 
deciduous Lewisia species in the North American West: dirt and scree 
slopes, very moist in spring from snowmelt and dry in summer. In 
fact, I enjoy growing Lewisia oppositifolia and L. brachycalyx next 
to Tecophilaea; they flower at the same time and are beautiful 
together. Another pretty combination is with the deep yellow 
Fritillaria pudica.

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

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