Sunday, June 4, 2017

Cold hardy Crinum bulbispermum

Right now many Crinum bulbispermums are coming into bloom and/or spiking in my gardens.  I have a number of plants grown from South African seeds from the Blomfontein area, as well as others from US sources.  The latter may contain other genes in them, as crinums are a staple in the South and seed freely when happy.  True bulbispermum is supposed to rarely if ever offset, but they do produce lots of large green seeds which must be sown fresh.  Those seeds also take time before they reach flowering size.  Mine have taken anywhere from four years or more to do so, but now most of the first batch are flowering.  A few of them did flower last year, but now all seem to be flowering sized.  This is probably one reason they are not commonly sold in nurseries, for they are not an ideal pot plant, taking a rather long time to reach flowering size and not growing all that well in pots to begin with.  I grew the seeds in large pots until the bulbs were more or less tulip bulb sized, then planted them deep in the soil to protect them from freezing.  They have survived both harsh and mild winters, and pop up back into growth quickly after the last frost date has passed.  They are especially profuse with bloom this year, and if they do as they have done in years past, more spikes will follow sporadically during the summer and even fall.





The blue green wavy leaves are diagnostic for this species as is the not so wonderful floral scent.  There are other crinums that give off a wonderful fragrance but this is not one of them.  Fortunately it can and has been used to create other cold hardy crinums some of which may be better in the fragrance department. 


Even without flowers the foliage has a commanding presence in the garden.   Needless to say no one else in the neighborhood grows these, nor anyone else in my state as far as I know.  Besides the trouble of finding them in the trade, the other reason they are not widely grown up here is because most gardeners who are aware of crinums probably think they all are tropical plants, but that is not the case with this one. One of the neatest things about gardening is trying plants that are "not supposed" to survive in your area.  Sure, many might not survive, but many will, and horticultural rule breaking makes for some of the most interesting gardens in my view. 




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