Lee Poulsen
Sat, 08 Sep 2012 20:12:35 PDT
On Sep 7, 2012, at 1:55 PM, wrote:
> Since we are offering seeds of this desirable species on the BX, I wonder if those of you who have success growing and blooming this beauty could share cultivation tips with the rest of us. 
> I have had excellent germination success using Diana Chapman of Telos Rare Bulbs' technique of putting the seeds in a ziploc with moist sphagnum and keeping the bag warm (mid 70's F). But I have never grown them to blooming size. 

On Sep 8, 2012, at 12:59 PM, Nolo Contendere wrote:

> The key to success with Paramongaia is understanding that bulbs are in 
> active growth for no more than about 4 months, and must remain bone dry 
> during their long dormancy.
> Alan
> _______________________________________________

My first question (probably to Bill McLauglin who donated the seeds) is: Which of the two different strains did this seed come from? There is one strain which I've read originated among the coastal hills of Peru near the ocean at low elevations, and another strain that originates from the foothills of the Andes up at, I think, 10,000 feet above sea level.

The low-elevation strain grows during the winter, coming out of dormancy some time in the late fall to early winter usually and then by mid to late spring it goes dormant again throughout the summer and fall. This strain can be grown just like many of the South African Cape bulbs that are summer dormant and winter growing. This is how I grow them and they usually bloom for me (although not every year!) in late winter (usually February-ish). The leaves are more sensitive to <0°C frosts than most Cape bulbs, but otherwise I grow them right along with my Cape bulbs in the same soil mix and watering regime, etc., and they do just fine. They also form offsets fairly easily if they're in a large enough pot.

The high-elevation strain I've heard comes out of dormancy in the spring and then sometime during the summer goes dormant and remains dormant through the fall and winter. I've only ever had the high elevation strain once, and I didn't know it was the other strain, so I ignorantly grew it along with my other Paramongaias. I worried a lot when it didn't come out of dormancy during the winter, but the bulb seemed healthy when I checked it that first winter. It leafed out in the spring and then refused to go dormant when the others did, although I watered it only sparingly hoping that would encourage it to go dormant. I thought it was because it was adjusting to a new environment. When the next winter came I started watering it along with the others. It never showed up, and by spring time I decided to unpot it to see what was going on, only to find it had rotted. When I described this to the person who sent it to me, he told me that it didn't grow during the winter, but came out in the spring. That's when I discovered it was the other strain.

Even though I've tried to get bulbs from different sources and always try to cross-pollinate when they do bloom, I've never been able to get any seeds. I've never tried growing them to maturity from seeds since those have been very very uncommon.

--Lee Poulsen
Pasadena, California, USA - USDA Zone 10a
Latitude 34°N, Altitude 1150 ft/350 m

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