It’s Spring Again!

Bowie's Wood Sorrel (Oxalis bowiei)

Bowie’s Wood Sorrel (Oxalis bowiei)

Well, it is spring in South Africa anyway where this Oxalis comes from.  I’m finding the rebirth of many South African bulbs is reproducing springtime in my greenhouse.  I was originally a little anxious about how to treat the many little bulbs which prefer a truly dry summer rather than Maryland’s hit or miss summer — sometimes we get bucket-loads of rain and sometimes none.  Since my greenhouse is programmed to rain 2-4 times a day it was clearly the wrong place for things that were dormant.  So I ended up just taking most of the pots to the basement for the summer (it’s a fairly dry basement).  To be honest, I thought that many of the plants had just plain died as opposed to going dormant.  And for the summer dormant bulbs that arrived last summer, I just let them sit in the box they arrived in.

On September 4, I decided spring would officially start for these plants.  I brought the pots out of the basement and put them in the greenhouse and I potted up the many Oxalis that had arrived along with Ferraria, Lachenalia, Albucca, Zephyranthes, Tulbaghia, and Cyrtanthus (Let me put in a shameless plug for the Pacific Bulb Society, which has been the source many bulbs at this point.  They have a very active bulb exchange with a wide variety of bulbs and seeds).  It has been wonderful to see how rapidly the bulbs responded to water.  Just about everything that I took to the basement with deep foreboding has come back in style.  And all the new little oxalis bulbs are growing rapidly, though none more so than the Wood Sorel pictured at the intro to this posting.  It’s acting like it’s late for the flower awards and wants to get its bid in early.  The giant shamrock leaves provide a pretty backdrop for the flowers.

Oxalis Bowiei & friends

Oxalis Bowiei & friends

I’ve been delighted to see things sprouting again and I’m more than charmed by the Oxalis.  The leaves are very different in each species and in some cases would justify growing them even without the flowers.  Diana Chapman of Telos Rare Bulbs (the source of a number of these Oxalis) makes this point with regard to Oxalis lava in one of her Bulb Maven postings.

Oxalis flava yellow

Oxalis flava yellow

Oxalis palmifrons (from Plant Delights) is another with wonderfully interesting leaves and apparently delightful flowers if you can get them to show up.

Oxalis palmifrons

Oxalis palmifrons

But they all seem to bring something to the party as they are sprouting out.

Oxalis hirta

Oxalis hirta

Oxalis purpea

Oxalis purpea

 

Oxalis luteola Glauca

Oxalis luteola Glauca

Notice the hairy undersides and red coloring to the backs of the Oxalis luteola leaves.

As an example of the plants that were banished to the basement for the summer, the various Babianas grown from seed are all coming back and this must resemble there appearance in the wild as they return from the dry summers.

Babiana stricta

Babiana stricta

The Ixia was not grown from seed, but it seems to have multiplied ten-fold over the summer dormancy so I should end up with more bulbs to share after the next dormancy.

Ixia hybrid 'Buttercup'

Ixia hybrid ‘Buttercup’

This is what the flower looked like last Spring

Ixia hybrid 'Buttercup'

Ixia hybrid ‘Buttercup’

Happy South African Spring Everyone!

2 comments on “It’s Spring Again!

  1. Casa Mariposa

    I don’t have a greenhouse or any fancy bulbs but that ixia is just stunning. Why do you put grit over the tops of your pots?

    1. jw

      I don’t think you need a greenhouse to start using gravel to finish off your plantings. I discussed this decision in a posting last year where I observed that recommendations stemming from bulb and alpine growers led me to consider gravel as a top dressing for pots. There are a number of advantages for using gravel or gravel simulations including avoiding damping off and a more solid surface for watering. The seeds don’t seem to mind coming up through the gravel. It seems to work better for pretty much everything I grow.