Jim Shields' Garden Notes
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Blog Home : February 2008

- Greenhouse Goings-on

First, we have flower buds in the Clivia House, so we are planning our annual Clivia Open House for the weekend of March 8th and 9th, 9 AM - 4 PM. There are scapes on 'Chubb Peach', on 'Victorian Peach' mother plants, and on a few of the Solomone plants. Not all will make it into full bloom by March 8th, but we are trying to force them with warmer settings on the thermostats and an increased watering and feeding schedule. At the moment, the only Clivia flowers actually open are on an interspecific hybrid.

The Midwest Clivia group will meet on Saturday, March 8th, from 12 noon till 4 PM (very approximately). It you want to join us for lunch on Saturday, please RSVP by Monday, March 3rd.

In the other greenhouses, Lachenalia pustulata has its purple flowers open. L. carnosa has its white flowers with purple tips open, and L. rosea is in bloom. The L. latifolia are just starting to show their scapes in the centers of the plants.

Oxalis obtusa, with pink veined flowers, is proving to be quite floriferous in my greenhouse. Most Oxalis don't flower well in our dark winter days. O. purpurescens has nice rose-red flowers, but produces very few of them and only opens them on very bright sunny days. O. obtusa seems to be a good pot plant for winter in a sunny window.

A large Zantedeschia aethiopica that I have kept growing all winter long has two of its white funnels in bloom. It is getting quite a lot of good light where it is sitting. It is also getting fed regularly with dilute (ca. 100 ppm nitrogen) soluble 20-10-20 in its water. It is at least 3 feet high, and seems about to out-grow its 2-gallon pot (22 cm X 22 cm).

Two winter-growing Herperantha are in bloom: H. bachmannii has loads of its pure white flowers open all the time, and H. cuculata has a very few buds that open only at night, and do not last long at all. H. bachmannii is by far the better pot plant for winter bloom in a very sunny spot. Ours produces a zillion tiny offsets.

Scadoxus puniceus is blooming now, as it does every year at this time. It's orange flowers inside the bronze bracts make it look like a paintbrush full of bright orange paint. S. puniceus is by far the most reliable of the Scadoxus plants we grow. It needs warmth, water, and shade from February through September, when it is in leaf.

The Ipheion are in full bloom now. They all have star-shjaped flowers 1 to 1½ inches across, one flower per stem. I. uniflorum 'Froyle Mill' has purple star-shaped flowers, I. uniflorum 'Charlotte Bishop' has pinkish flowers, we have an unnamed white form in bloom, and I. 'Rolf Fiedler' has clear blue flowers. 'Rolf Fiedler' has recently been given its own species name, but I've lost track of what the new name is. These make good windowsill bulbs for pots. We grow them in pots 5 or 6 inches across and deep. they can go outdoors in summer, under dappled shade, until perhaps August. We keep them dry at least a couple of months before we start watering again inside the greenhouse in winter.

Some things are in bud, including Ferraria crispa, Brodiaea pallida, and the small Ornithogalum apertum. The ornithogalum has a clump of many helically twisted leaves up to 5 or 6 inches long.

Winter has hung on tenaciously all through February. We seem to have a winter storm passing through about every five or six days, with barely one day of moderate weather following each. We can't ship tender plants in this weather, so we are simply holding all orders until the weather breaks. We need 5 or 6 days in a row of above-freezing weather to dare to ship plants; so far, we have just not had that since November.

Good gardening,


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