How to acclimate South African Bulbs.?

Kipp McMichael
Wed, 28 Aug 2013 19:14:05 PDT
> What is the best was to acclimate bulbs from South Africa to San Francisco? 
  The Bay Area is IMHO one of the best places in the world for synchronizing imported South African bulbs (and the same goes for their recalcitrant seeds). Our late Bay Area summer (Sept-early October), mid-winter sunny spells (late Jan-Feb), summer fog (June-Aug) all make it much easier to give bulbs a dose of whatever season they are expecting whenever they arrive here.
  1) If the bulb has started growth in transit: I plant it in moist media, put it in a cool/shady location that only gets early morning or late afternoon sun and begin watering. If the bulb arrives in late summer, I am "starting winter early" and will water until regular winter rains make it unecessary. If the bulb arrives in winter or early spring, I will water the plants even after winter rains stop if the foliage stays green. In both cases, I will stop watering when the new bulb starts going dormant (and protect it from rain if necessary) until the next fall.
  2) If the bulb has not started growth in transit: I will plant it in dry media, put it in a cool/shady location, and let it sit until the next falls rains wake the bulb up naturally. Bulbs are pre-adapted to handle an extra-long drought in their natural habitat but are not really physiologically capable of resuming growth too quickly after their last growing season. Relatedly, I would opine that SA bulbs are always more vulnerable to rotting from ill-timed moisture than they are to dying due to too much aridity.
  If a new bulb tries to bloom in its first year, I actively prevent seed-set through non-pollination and/or removal of the fertilized ovaries - no need to stress the bulb with the rigors of producing resource-intensive seeds the first growing season after import.
  It can take a few seasons for a bulb to get fully synched. You may need to start water early or water into the dry season for bulbs that wake-up at the wrong times for more than their first season - but I find most bulbs are in-synch within 1.5-2 years after they arrive.


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