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Blog Home : October 2009

- Haemanthus Hybrids

Old Haemanthus Hybrids

Following tips from David Lehmiller of I.B.S., and the PDF file on-line of a paper on this subject, it appears that the various older names for Haemanthus sensu lato hybrids boil down to just two types of crosses: Scadoxus (katherinae X puniceus) and Haemanthus (albiflos X coccineus).

It seems that the plants from Scadoxus (katherinae X puniceus) are fertile, since I received seeds of the F2 of that cross from South Africa. None have grown large enough to bloom yet, but I am still hoping.

Plants from the old cross Haemanthus (albiflos X coccineus) have recently been re-created. Terry Hatch in New Zealand told me a year ago that he has bloomed numerous seedlings of this cross, and that the flowers come in a wide variety of different colors.

Also in fairly recent years, Aart van Voorst in the Netherlands has converted Haemanthus albiflos to the tetraploid form and has since crossed diploid H. coccineus on the tetraploid albiflos to produce hybrds with various colored flowers and with the additional property of being evergreen. These should have great potential as house plants in the future.

New Haemanthus Hybrids

Besides the Haemanthus 'Burgundy' strain that I have bloomed in the past three years, I have numerous seedlings starting to bloom from Haemanthus (barkerae X coccineus).

Haemanthus barkerae x coccineus (c) copyright 2009 by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved. This is the second of these hybrids to bloom. The size and shape of the umbel are roughly the same as for barkerae itself, but the color of the bracts is more intense and more orange than for barkerae. The peduncle height is distinctly shorter than for barkerae.
Haemanthus (barkereae x coccineus)
No. 2069.C

I realized just the other day that a cross I though had failed, Haemanthus (albiflos x humilis hirsutus), actually succeeded. I have one surviving seedling from that cross, and it is very similar to albiflos except for one thing: the peduncle is covered with a dense coat of hair, while albiflos has a nude peduncle.

Scape of Haemanthus (albiflos x humilis hirsutus) (c) copyright 2009 by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved. Other than the hairy scape, the hybrid looks very similar to the seed parent, albiflos. When it bloomed for the first time this summer, I even pollinated it with albiflos pollen, thinking it was just another albiflos. I don't know yet whether there will be any seeds from that pollination.
Haemanthus (albiflos X humilis hirsutus)
No. 1539.B

Parent of Haemanthus 'Burgundy'

The pollen parent of Haemanthus 'Burgundy' is in bloom just now. It is Haemanthus coccineus No. 897.A, and its scape this time is fasciated. It has about 15 bracts, compared to 6 bracts on a normal scape. The peduncle is at least twice the width of the normal plant's.

Haemanthus coccineus No. 897.A fasciated (c) copyright 2009 by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved. Haemanthus coccineus No. 897 fasciated vs. normal (c) copyright 2009 by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved.
Haemanthus coccineus No. 897.A Fasciated (rear) vs. normal (front)

Good gardening,


- Nerine Autumn Bloom

New Workstation

About two weeks ago, my old personal workstation (PC) in my office/study died. Two days ago, the new one arrived and was installed. It is much faster than the 7-year old machine that passed away! Still, I missed the old machine while waiting for the new one. I worked on my notebook computer or on one of the other workstations, but none were really comfortable for me. So, the blog lapsed.

Some of what would have gone into it if I had not had the computer loss:

Nerine bowdenii

My bulbs are in bud or in bloom right now, but they can bloom any time from August to early December here. They are almost leafless now, but in January they will start a new flush of leaves and will stay green through summer. These bulbs are native to the high Drakensberg of KwaZulu-Natal and to the mountains of the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. They are not hardy enough to bloom outdoors in the ground here in Indiana, but a few of them will survive for several years under heavy mulch.

According to Graham Duncan in "Grow Nerines" (Kirstenbosch Gardening Series, 2002), Nerine bowdenii was at that time one of the most heavily produced cut flowers, being grown in the Netherlands and in the U.S.A. Nerine bowdenii bulbs do not bloom every year, so if you want to see their flowers annually, you will need to grow several pots of bulbs. I grow my flowering size bulbs of bowdenii individually in 1-gal. (7-inch diameter and depth) pots, with only the tips of the bulbs showing above the surface of the potting medium.

Nerine bowdenii Nerine bowdenii "Wellsii" is the form found in the high Drakensberg of KwaZulu-Natal. It is characterized by ruffled petals and sepals and the pink midribs and edges of the petals. The flower shown spans 2 inches across from tip to tip.
Nerine bowdenii "Wellsii"

The bowdenii found in the midlands of the Eastern Cape Province are slightly smaller and less ruffled than the form Wellsii. Also from the Eastern Cape is the white flowered form of Nerine bowdenii that is just now starting to bud in my greenhouse.

Nerine filifolia and others

Still blooming is Nerine filifolia. N. masoniorum finished up a couple weeks ago, and N. filamentosa is just now finished flowering. N. angustifolia "Den's Dwarf" is still going strong.

Nerine filifolia (c) copyright 2009 by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved.
Nerine filifolia

More Late Flowers

Colchicum atropurpureum came from Robert Potterton in the U.K. in 2001. As far as I can recall, this is the first time it hase bloomed. That doesn't mean it hasn't bloomed till now, since it is small, the bulbs are few, and they are planted a bit off the main track. However, Sternbergia lutea is coming up in bud just a couple of feet away from this Colchicum, so I should have noticed it in past Autumns if it had bloomed. I always watch for the sternbergia to bloom.

Colchicum atropurpureum (c) copyright 2009 by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved. Weather has not been cooperating to get a decent photo of this Colchicum. I tried anyway.
Colchicum atropurpureum

Sternbergia lutea (c) copyright 2009 by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved.
This is the very start of the Sternbergia bloom for this Fall. If the sun ever comes out again, I'll get some pictures of them in full bloom.
Sternbergia lutea

Good gardening, from here in central Indiana


- Transition to Winter


I had a root canal yesterday morning on one of my teeth. This was my first-ever root canal, and it was not bad at all. Of course, it took six hours for the local anesthetics to wear off. I'm just glad it was on a tooth with only one root!

Probably worse was the other day when my dog, Emma, jerked me off my feet while my daughter and I were out walking our dogs together. I'm still sore from my hard landing.

The Last Flowers in the Garden

Today we're in for an all-day rain; yesterday was cloudy all day. So these pictures are from a couple days ago.

The Sternbergia reached full bloom. There are only two clumps left from more than a half dozen groups of bulbs that I planted in various places up to ten years ago.

Sternbergia lutea They make a bright spot of golden yellow in the late Fall garden. I hope to spread the increase from this clump around to other beds in the garden over the years.
Sternbergia lutea

Colchicum atropurpureum are fading.

Colchicum atropurpureum I'm still very impressed with this colchicum. I'd like to have it in more places, since it starts blooming after all the other colchicums have finished. Its flower is markedly smaller than say, cilicicum, but the color is a very intense red-purple. I love it!
Colchicum atropurpureum

Crocus nudiflorus surprised me by blooming! Over the years I have planted nudiflorus several times, always getting nothing by leaves from clumps that eventually disappeared forever. It seems that most commercial Crocus nudiflorus are a waste of time, money, and garden space.

Crocus nudiflorus These corms are definitely worth every iota of time and money. This group of corms came from Jane McGary in Oregon, and they are an excellent strain. They seem to be slowly increasing, having gone from six corms originally to now eight of blooming size.
Crocus nudiflorus

Good gardening, from here in central Indiana


- Transition to Winter. 2.


In the garden, one clump of Sternbergia is still in bloom, but Crocus nudiflorus and Colchicum atropurpureum are fading fast. A happy surprise was seeing Crocus cartwrightianus blooming for the first time!

Crocus cartwrightianus (c) copyright 2009 by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved.These corms came from Jane McGary in 2004 and are just now starting to flower. I had given them up for lost -- crocuses tend not to last long in my garden. This is a beautiful flower.
Crocus cartwrightianus


In the warm greenhouse, more Nerine are blooming. Nerine sarniensis 'Exbury Renoir', a truly exquisite flower, is blooming on a bulb from Nicholas de Rothschild's Exbury Nursery.

Nerine sarniensis 'Exbury Renoir' (c) copyright 2009 by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved.Note the diamond sparkle to the petals. That sparkle is in the petals themselves, it isn't water on the surface.
Nerine sarniensis 'Exbury Renoir'

Almost as lovely is the very old hybrid, Nerine sarniensis 'Dame Alice Godman'.

Nerine sarniensis 'Dame Alice Godman'(c) copyright 2009 by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved.
Nerine sarniensis 'Dame Alice Godman'

I've only recently learned how to care for Nerine sarniensis varieties properly. They require a dry rest in summer, so keep them warm, but not too hot. Keep their roots bone dry, but mist the bulbs and surface of the potting mix once a month through the summer with plain water.

When they are in growth, they need to be watered regularly but sparingly. Let the potting mix dry between waterings. Feed them sparingly as well, with no nitrogen AT ALL in the fertilizer! This means you need to get a fertilizer with a composition formula N-P-K of 0-10-20 or 0-20-35 or something similar. You can make your own with Potassium sulfate, still quaintly known in horticulture by the obsolete 19th century name "sulphate of potash." Dissolve about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoonful of the dry Potassium sulfate crystals per gallon of water, which will give you 50 to 100 p.p.m. of potassium.

The expression "p.p.m." or "parts per million" means 100 milligrams per liter of solution. You could probably water the bulbs with a solution of 50 p.p.m. of potassium every time you water.

Also in the warm greenhouse are Nerine bowdenii in bloom, in particular there are several pots of "Koen's Hardy" blooming; these came from Aad Koen in Monster, The Netherlands, several years ago.

Nerine bowdenii 'Koen's Hardy' (c) copyright 2009 by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved.

Finally, I'm waiting for the first bloom on a bulb of a pure white Nerine bowdenii from Cameron and Rhoda McMaster, who are now in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. I received the bulb as a tiny offset or seedling years ago, and it is just now blooming.

Good gardening, from here in central Indiana


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