Phycella bicolor

Jane McGary
Tue, 30 Oct 2018 09:48:03 PDT
I can't understand why this species is described as growing in "an area 
that receives nearly constant rainfall." The two sites for it described 
in "Flora nativa de valor ornamental" are on the east slope of the 
Chilean Coast Ranges, which have dry summers, and I don't think a great 
deal of fog gets to the east side. I've been to one of them, which is in 
La Campana National Park. It is noted for the wine palm (Jubaea 
chilensis), which does tend to appear in the lower parts of canyons 
where moisture is higher. It is somewhat moister than the east side of 
the central California Coast Ranges, but not as moist as the west side 
by any means. They grow avocados around there.

That book says (my transl.), "They need full sun, soil rich in 
nutrients, good drainage, and some moisture." They flower in mid-spring. 
I haven't seen p. bicolor in flower but have seen the closely related 
Phycella ignea, growing on steep slopes (in one place fairly shady, in 
another in full sun).

If you're growing your bulb in a pot, you should not water it "heavily." 
The leaves may be dying because the plant is too wet, too cold, or 
inadequately lighted. I'd try to deal with "too cold" also.

Or you can move to California, where all the beautiful Chilean plants 
are so seldom grown and so well suited.

In general I've observed that Chilean amaryllids grow with their bulbs 
quite deep in the soil (you can see this in drainages where floods have 
washed away some soil). This Phycella would experience dry conditions 
during its summer dormancy, when the weather is likely to be quite hot, 
but would not become completely dried out or hot because of its soil 
depth. That is also difficult to provide a potted specimen, but plunging 
the pot in sand would help.

Hope this helps. It's always worthwhile to find exact wild sites for 
plants, and if you can't visit them yourself, look at the images: they 
may show topography and soils, or whole plant communities from which you 
can infer growing conditions.

Jane McGary, Portland, Oregon, USA

On 10/29/2018 7:36 PM, Michael Kent wrote:
> I need some help with this plant. My bulb has sent up sprouts three times
> since I acquired it. Each time, the sprouts only got about 2" out of the
> soil before flopping over and dying off. Two of the times, I was trying to
> water very lightly since my only option for winter growing bulbs is the
> basement, under grow-lights (With the temps in the mid-50's, too much water
> tends to lead to cold and damp soil.). The third time, I watered more than
> previously, but still had no success.
> I recently was looking at some information on Chile-Flora website. It
> states that the P. bicolor grows in an area that receives nearly constant
> rainfall. The annual rainfall may be up to 32", mostly concentrated in the
> winter months. It also stated that the soil tends to be either clay with
> limited drainage, or poor soil with good drainage. The soil in the pot may
> not quite qualify as poor, but the drainage is good.
> I now have a few more sprouts coming up. Should I be watering heavily until
> Spring, or will that just cause more problems?
> Thank you for any input.
> Mike
> Zone 6a in the Finger Lakes, where the paperwhites are impatiently popping
> out of the ground
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