December 3, 2006

Now for the rare stuff...

Cyrtanthus species (most likely C. elatus X)

This unknown species, or most likely a cross between two species of Cyrtanthus blooms regularly for me in early December. Purchased at an IBS (International Bulb Society) bulb auction at the Huntington Botanical Garden in Pasadena, CA, in 2000, this bulb has grown to fill two pots, and for a species notorious for being difficult to bloom, for some reason, I have had good luck with both pots.One pot has soil which is mostly granite chips, perlite and sand, and the other pot is 14 inches wide, with simply peat-based Pro-mix, a professional mix containing perlite and peat. Both soil mixes have been augmented with gravel, but I wanted to test the differences of a smaller 6 inch plastic pot and a massive clay pot. Both have grown to fill thier pots, and bloom about three weeks apart.

Lapierousa montana
This tiny lapierousa was started by seed in 2002, after the advice of some friends during an online chat on the Pacific Bulb Society (PBS). I had complained that the cost of South African bulbs as well as the availability of finding any species in the U.S, let alone in the world seemed prohibitive for most collectors. I was encouraged to purchase seed from one of two seed suppliers in South Africa, Penrock Seeds and Silverhill Seeds. I gathered my books and journals, and cross-referenced what species and genus I wished to try, and placed an order. They all grew so easily, and are now begining to bloom. I find it fascinating to have fifteen to twenty of one genus blooming, so that one can see the differences between them, let alone the fact that hardley anyone grows the lesser known species, nor even the more 'common (?) species of many of these genus.

Brunsfigia bosmaniae

Perhaps my rarest bulb, after acquiring it last year, and allowing it to 'bake' in a large dry pot in the back of the glasshouse, this precious Brunsfigia bosmanniae surprised me this weekend with a spurt of new growth, just on time after it's first watering a month ago. Of course, I don't expect it to bloom, but naturally, I will dream of it. This species is so difficult to bloom in captivity that my hopes are not that high, but you never know. This plant will take ten or more years to mature before I can expect any chance of it's spectacular and rare blossom, which will appear in our Northern Hemisphere's late spring, after the bulb starts to loose it's foliage, and go dormant.

Haemanthus albiflos

Well, not rare, but certainly more unusual and less common to most people, but this is one South African plant that you could grow as a houseplant, (avalable at Logees Greenhouses online, if not, I know that have it). This Haemanthus also blooms exactly this week in December every year. The shaving-brush blossom is unique with it's boss of thick white stamens, which is more beautiful in a photo than in real life, since it tends to get lost in the greenhouse. However, the foliage is superb, and as this plant is dividing nicely, I can expect a nice full pot by spring, when I will most likely divide it before allowing it to go ratty and dry for the summer.


  1. Some amazing shots. Used to know these as Vallota lilies, didn't know they changed the name.
    All the best with the publication.
    Bob of bobsgarden.com

  2. Wow your photos are pretty awesome. I love this blog, it's rare to find one like yours where the content is good and it's updated often.

    And in my opinion the Haemanthus is rare because I have yet to find one in Chicago for sale.



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