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- Summer Season

I am getting only a few seeds on my hardy Hymenocallis liriosme, so I guess I'll plant all of them myself when they are ready. I'll grow them in a large pot for a few years before trying them outdoors in a protected spot. Someday I'm going to have to work on crossing Hymenocallis occidentalis with these hardy liriosme again. I can't think of any other Hymenocallis that could possibly be hardy here in Indiana.

I have good seed set on my hardy Crinum bulbispermum, "Mrs. Jordan's Red" and "Mrs. Morris" crossed with each other. Seeds from these two have volunteered in the mulch near their parents, so I think they are particularly hardy, even for C. bulbispermum. Most crinums here will die in winter until they have bulbs at least 2 inches in diameter. I'm amazed that some of these seedlings have survived.

I am getting only a couple seeds on my Haemanthus montanus, even though a half-dozen have been blooming for the past week or so. These all came from the same source, the nurserie of Dawie Human, in Bloemfontein, South Africa, so they much all be closely related. I have montanus from other sources, but none are blooming this year.

Lilium michiganense

Lilium michiganense (c) copyright 2011 by James E. Shields.  All rights reserved.
Lilium michiganense

I think this is Lilium michiganense, a native wild flower in Indiana. I spotted this one growing along a creek bank, under tall trees, at the edge of a meadow. I've never seen it there before, and I've walked along that creek for years. They put a sewer line in through the area a few years ago, and I wonder if someone didn't reseed the construction site with wildflower seeds.

Sprekelia howardii

Sprekelia howardii (c) copyright 2011 by James E. Shields.  All rights reserved.
Sprekelia howardii

This rare little gem is from Mexico. Looking like a miniature of the more familiar Sprekelia formossisima, it is barely 6 inches tall and the flower is only 5 inches across. My bulbs were grown from seeds given to me by David Lehmiller. The bulbs are each growing in an individual 5.5 inch pot. Dave said that they really hate to have their roots disturbed, so I have not repotted these since planting them. They are fertile, but self-sterile. I have several seedlings so I have produced some seeds in the past. I am trying to pollinate these to make more seeds, of course. I don't know the shelf-life of these seeds, but I suspect it may be somewhat short. So I will probably donate any seeds I get to the Pacific Bulb Society BX for immediate distribution. I grow these outdoors on our deck in summer. That means they get natural rainfall here in Indiana, anywhere from 2.5 to 6 inches per month -- quite variable from month to month and year to year. They are planted in a gritty mix: Promix + sand + granite chicken grit, 2 : 1 : 1 by volume. In winter, they are kept bone dry in the cool greenhouse -- the one with the winter-growing Haemanthus in it. Temperatures stay above freezing.

Crinum 'Catherine'

Crinum 'Catherine' (c) copyright 2011 by James E. Shields.  All rights reserved.
Crinum 'Catherine'

This hybrid has been growing outdoors next to the greenhouse for years. Before that, it grew in a large pot for several years. It came to me from Roy Works, who lived in Florida at that time. This is the first time I can remember seeing it in bloom. These are the first flowers open, but more scapes are coming up.

Good gardening, from here in central Indiana


Look up technical terms in the Glossary of Plant Biology

- Summer Season Advances


Crinum 'Catherine', Crinum 'Emma Jones', and Crinum 'Super Ellen' have been blooming!

Crinum 'Catherine' has been growing along side Crinum 'Emma Jones' just outside the greenhouse wall, along the east side, for several years. They have rarely bloomed, so I presume that even this very protected spot is almost too stressful for them to live in. Still, both have bloomed this summer. 'Emma Jones' put up one scape of pink flowers, all of which faced toward the greenhouse wall. Still, they are attractive flowers with a nice color, and their form reminds me a lot of C. moorei.

Crinum 'Catherine' (see below) is a hybrid that has star-shaped, almost completely white flowers. This clump outdid itself in bloom after its long hiatus. The current blooms are on the third flush of scapes.

Crinum 'Super Ellen' (c) copyright 2011 by James E. Shields.  All rights reserved.
Crinum 'Super Ellen'

Finally, Crinum 'Super Ellen' was a new addition to my garden last summer. I received a nice-sized bulb and planted it out in an open bed, near my hardy C. bulbispermum and in the same bed with the several mature, long-established plants of C. [variabile x bulbispermum]. 'Super Ellen' survived the winter in good shape, although the foliage was rather yellowish when it first came up in late spring. Now, it has a scape up and a flower open. I'm quite excited by the hardiness of 'Super Ellen', since the original 'Ellen Bosanquet' has always died out when left outdoors in the ground here. I might note that a sib of 'Super Ellen' called 'Sunbonnet' failed to survive the first winter in the ground here.

The plants of hardy bulbispermum have run out of new scapes, at least for now; but the plants of [variabile x bulbispermum] continue to send up occasional new scapes. The long bloom season with multiple scapes is one of the best features of these hybrids. Of course, I am fond of the rosy pink flush and the red bands, too.


Old reliable Crocosmia 'Lucifer' has started blooming, and a new-comer is also blooming this year for the first time. Now here is one Barry Yinger said was hardier than 'Lucifer': Crocosmia 'Elizabethan Gardens'. I received 10 corms in September 2009 and planted them outdoors in the ground. I don't recall seeing them anytime last year, but now there is one plant in bloom.

Crocosmia 'Elizabethan Gardens' (c) copyright 2011 by James E. Shields.  All rights reserved.
Crocosmia 'Elizabethan Gardens'

It remains to be seen whether this new one is as hardy as some of the strains of 'Lucifer' or not. My current strain of 'Lucifer' is quite hardy, but the best one I ever had (big flowers) was too tender for my climate. This new variety has fiery red-orange flowers, in nice contrast to the deeper blood- or brick-red of 'Lucifer'.


I have given up growing some of the hardy species of Arisaema outdoors in the ground. I keep them over winter in a refrigerator, either potted in their pot or bare in a bit of sphagnum moss in a zip-top plastic baggie. The other day, I found some that had been in the fridge since March 2010. I took them out, potted the bare root tubers, and put all the pots outdoors. They have been watered, and most are growing vigorously again. Most are in the lath house. There are two pots of Arisaema yunnanense aridum and one pot each of A. fargesii and A. tortuosum. Every plant of hardy Arisaema that I raised from seed and planted outdoors disappeared and has never been seen again. The tortuosum, new last year from U.C. Berkeley Botanical Garden, and the fargesii are getting ready to bloom.

Arisaema fargesii (c) copyright 2011 by James E. Shields.  All rights reserved.
Arisaema fargesii
Seedling getting ready to open its first inflorescence

Undeniably hardy outdoors in the ground here are the native Arisaema tryphyllum and A. dracontium, as well as A. heterophyllum. Rather hardy here are A. ringens and A. shikokianum. Moderately hardy are sazensoo, kishidae, and urashima. A. serratum was pretty short-lived for me. I don't think I've tried any others here.


Only Amorphophallus bulbifer and A. konjac survived the winter in my greenhouse. Both A. titanum and A. paeoniifolium tubers rotted over winter. The temperatures did get down around 40°F inside the greenhouse numerous times last winter. The option of trying to grow Amorphophallus as house plants does not seem viable. I'd worry that they might reach bloom size too quickly. My wife would not find that very amusing.

Even with its bulblets produced (sparingly) on the leaves, bulbifer increases slowly. A. konjac on the other hand generates loads of tubers from the mother tuber, so I should have a batch of it to ship off to the Pacific Bulb Society's BX (bulb and seed exchange) in a year or so.

Good gardening, from here in central Indiana


Look up technical terms in the Glossary of Plant Biology

- In Spite of the Heat

The weather in Indiana has been hot, miserably hot. But not as hot as in Texas or even New Jeresy. Also not as hot as this time in July of 1934 here in Indiana, when several all-time record high temperatures of 106°F (41°C) were set. The last time the temperature reached 106°F around here was in August, 1988. This past week's high temperature was a mere 100°F.

While other crinums are still blooming, like the hardy white bulbispermum, the [variabile x bulbispermum] hybrids, and another spike on 'Emma Jones', the highlight of the week has been the first bloom in my collection of a rare little crinum from Madagascar.

Crinum razafindratsiraea

I have first bloom on my plant of Crinum razafindratsiraea, which is native to Madagascar. This is a miniature crinum, about the size of Crinum lugardiae from KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa, or a little smaller. This bulb came from I.B.S. in about 2001, but all in cultivation anywhere in the world outside Madagascar probably can be traced to David Lehmiller, who found it in 1996. This one is growing in a 2-gal. pot (22 cm X 22 cm). The flowers are about 5.5 inches (ca. 13-14 cm) across and the peduncle is 12 inches (30 cm) high. As a tropical plant, it probably does not like to get cold in winter. I'm sure mine has suffered because even my warm greenhouse tends to get down well below 50°F (10°C) on cold nights in winter here in Indiana.

Crinum razafindratsiraea (c) copyright 2011 by James E. Shields.  All rights reserved.
Crinum razafindratsiraea

The new species was described by Dave Lehmiller in an article in the 2000 annual issue of HERBERTIA, vol. 55, pp. 130-133. The plant is named for Alfred Razafindratsira, a local nurseryman in Madagascar who recognized it as a new species and pointed it out to Dr. Lehmiller.

The individual flowers have been very short-lived, lasting barely one day. This may be due to the unusual heat we are currently experiencing. The new buds are produced standing rigidly erect, but about a day before a bud opens, it arches over and points downward. By the time the flower has opened the next morning, the flower is again facing upward. A curious habit.

Proiphys amboinensis

This plant in the Amaryllis Family appeared suddenly in the trade a few years back. I bought three plants, and they have subsequently bloomed off and on. This year, only one of them is blooming. It is native to Queensland, Australia, but has naturalized in Malaysia and the Phillipines.

Proiphys amboinensis (c) copyright 2011 by James E. Shields.  All rights reserved.
Proiphys amboinensis

Other species in this genus include Proiphys alba and P. cunninghamii, both also native to Queensland. So far, my amboinensis has never set seed; but sometimes cunninghamii will produce a couple of what look to be vegetative propagules in the fruit. I grew my cunninghamii from just such propagules.

Good gardening, from here in central Indiana


Look up technical terms in the Glossary of Plant Biology

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Last revised on: 24 July 2011
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