Lycoris culture

Jim McKenney
Thu, 06 Aug 2015 13:19:56 PDT
I've been reading the accounts of Lycoris in the old Bailey Cyclopaedia (I've got both the 1904 and 1925 editions). I've hit on two or three things which might be of interest to other Lycoris lovers. Here's one I want to pass on right away: both editions emphasize how unusual it is that Lycoris aurea in the wild is dormant during the hot, wet season. The writers suggest that pot grown plants be kept damp during dormancy. In my experience, damp hot soil is an invitation to disaster for most bulbs. But it might be a key to success with this and other Lycoris species. I vaguely remember Jim Waddick mentioning that he saw Lycoris thriving at the edges of rice paddies in China. And I've long been puzzled by Mary Sue's failure with Lycoris in her part of California. As I recall, for her it isn't simply a case of the bulbs not flowering, it's a case of the bulbs simply fading away after a few years. And I well remember the year when a summer drought resulted in Lycoris squamigera blooming, if at all, three or four inches over the ground. All of this suggests to me that generous summer water during their dormancy might be good for these plants. For Mary Sue, a pot standing in shallow water throughout the summer might work. Does anyone else have empirical evidence to support or discredit this?Jim McKenneyMontgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where this year at least there should not be a need for additional water for anything. 

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