Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Summer Growing Moraea

This little floriferous gem turns out to be M. elliottii, at least according to the label I found in the pot the other day (I thought it was M. thompsonii, another summer growing purple species).  Whatever it is, it is easy to grow from seed, and simple to deal with in winter, just store the whole pot with corms dry and cool.  The flowers are little works of art, and although each lasts about a day or so, more come over a period of several weeks.  I have not tested it for winter hardiness, though it has set ample seed so I have some incentive to try it in the garden in the future.  Most Moraeas come from the winter rainfall areas of the old Cape Province of South Africa.  There the genus is at its most diverse and one can only wish the stunning "peacock" moreas like M. aristata would be summer growers and thus more amenable to cultivation in areas other than winter rainfall mild climate ones.  If I were younger, I might dream of bioengineering some of the wonderful Cape bulbs to grow on a summer active winter dormant schedule, it probably is just a matter of finding the gene(s) responsible and swapping them out with genes from summer growing equivalents.  Or just add in some genes for cold hardiness and a delayed growth response (as in most crocuses and daffodils) and you would have a plethora of new "spring" bulbs for the garden.  In the meantime (aka back on planet Earth), there are several summer growers in this genus worth trying, and some are hardy in places like the UK, especially some of the yellow flowered larger ones like huttonii and its kin.   More experimentation is needed in the USA to determine which ones are reliably cold hardy and what other factors can lead to winter loss (for one I tried in my school garden, I suspect voles may have done it in more than winter cold). 

1 comment:

Panayoti Kelaidis said...

AWESOME plant: do let's get seed!