Rhodophiala seedlings

Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Sun, 19 Nov 2017 16:39:50 PST
I've grown a number of Rhodophiala species from seed, 3 or 4 actually to 
flowering. It's true that the seedlings develop very slowly, but I found 
Rhodophiala advena, Rhodophiala pratensis, and Rhodophiala araucana a 
little faster to mature. Like Bruce, I keep them growing as long as they 
look lively for the first 2 years and after that I dry them off (in a 
cool place) in the summer. I say "cool place" because one thing I've 
noticed about rhodophialas in nature is that they grow very deeply (yes, 
I checked, but did not take the bulbs).

One needs to bear in mind the origin of the different species one is 
growing. Rhodophiala bifida has an entirely different growth cycle from 
those that grow on the Pacific side of the Andes, which has dry summers; 
that's why it's a good garden plant for the US Southeast, and why I 
don't grow it here on the Pacific Coast. Some rhodophialas are alpine 
(e.g., Rhodophiala rhodolirion, and I think maybe R. splendens) and grow 
and flower in summer, and some are lowland or strictly coastal in 
distribution and flower in mid spring, then go dormant in summer. Those 
in northern Chile (e.g., Rhodophiala bagnoldii) remain dormant in years 
when they experience no rainfall, but I've seen them flowering in a dry 
year amid young olive trees that had drip irrigation.

Bruce mentioned Rhodophiala laeta going dormant. This is another species 
of the northern Pacific coast; it's short-growing but quite beautiful 
and inhabits rocky, sandy places.

jane McGary, Portland, Oregon, USA


On 11/19/2017 2:03 PM, Bruce Schroder wrote:
> I also have young seedlings of both these species, about the same age.  I
> also have seedlings of a number of other Rhodophiala sp.  I am still
> experimenting with these and to tell you the truth, am very confused with
> their growth cycle.  Mine here in Melbourne are showing no signs of
> dormancy as we head into summer & in fact a number are putting on new
> growth including R splendens.  My theory is that whilst the bulbs want to
> remain in leaf, I will continue to water them (sparingly) to encourage the
> bulbs to fatten up!
>
> I have no idea how big the bulbs are as they have never gone completely
> dormant for me and allowed me to inspect them.  The only species that has
> is R laeta.  When I inspected the dormant bulbs last summer they were only
> about 5mm (2015 sowing).  I think that as a genus they are naturally slow!
> The possible exception to this seems to be R bakeri which flowered last
> summer from seed sown in early 2015.  These have also never gone dormant.
>
> Another one I am experimenting with is R bifida.  Mature bulbs always go
> dormant about this time of the year but seedlings from various seed sources
> are currently showing no signs of dormancy.  I have recently received some
> seeds from a colleague in the US and have just sown them - they started
> germinating within 3 days!  It will be interesting to see how they perform
> as summer progresses.
>
> Bruce Schroder, Melbourne, Australia
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