Monday 30 March 2020

We have now Postponed Meetings until July 2020 at the earliest - Stay safe all

Due to the current circumstances, we will review our meeting schedule in July 2020. 

Stay safe all.


HAEMANTHUS  x HUMILIS The photo is of a seed-grown hybrid involving H. humilis, which comes from summer rainfall areas of South Africa, and has only a short dormancy. The hybrid is a dwarf plant and grows happily in 10” squat pot. There are 22 known species of haemanthus, which are distinguished by their attractive brush-like flowers. Most are reasonably easy to grow.
AMARYLLIS BELLADONNA This is not anything like the ‘belladonna’ or Naked Lady known to just about every gardener. It was a chance find somewhere in the country by a keen bulb grower in WA, who then kept it and encouraged it to multiply. He called it ‘Hot Lips’, probably after the well-known salvia cultivar of the same name. A few bulbs were then sent to the bulb grower in Victoria.
TUBEROUS BEGONIA If you like big and bold, then you might grow tuberous begonias, although the hanging varieties have smaller flowers and are easier to grow. They all come from South America and like mild growing conditions, neither too hot nor too cold, and low humidity. The large flowered cultivars are usually grown from named tubers, but the photo is of a plant grown from US seed, and took about 4 months from sowing to flowering, and was obtained through the grower’s connections with the Melbourne Begonia Society.

Wednesday 12 February 2020

Alstroemeria, Hippeastrum, Ixia Paniculata, Pacific Coast Iris & Clivea

Many thanks to Geoff for his insight and beautiful photos...

Alstroemeria hybrids: alstroemerias are perennial plants with fleshy rhizomes that come from a number of South America countries. The hybrids available in Australia can be either tall or quite dwarf, are easy to grow and make good cut flowers. They die down in late summer. A few species can be invasive given the right conditions. Species vary greatly in habitat, size, flower colour (near white, yellow, pink, purple) but these would need to be grown from seed from a specialist source, eg Alpine Garden Society. 
Hippeastrum papilio: there are up to 90 species of hippeastrum, mainly coming from South America, but also Mexico and the Caribbean. The species papilio is endangered its natural habitat in Brazil, but it has proven easy to cultivate and will multiply by producing off-set, ground level bulbs. It is evergreen, and generally flowers in spring. There can be some variation in flower colour. Hippeastrum are generally known from the hundreds of hybrids and cultivars that have been produced. 

Ixia paniculata: nearly all the 50 plus species of ixia come from the winter rainfall areas of southern Africa. They are easily grown, and can be increased when they form cormletsor by sowing seed, and usually look best when allowed to grow into decent sized clumps. Owing to their slim habit and height, they don’t make good pot plants. 

Pacific Coast iris: as suggested by the name, these irisoriginally came from the west coast areas of USA. They are the result of natural or man-made crosses between a number of species, including I. douglasianainnominatahartwegiitenax and munzii. They need an acid, friable and well-drained soil, wet winters and fairly dry summers. Plants do well in semi-shade. They can be tricky to divide or transplant, but the best time is when renewed root growth occurs in autumn (May for us). In the USA there is a special society devoted to all aspects of growing these iris

Clivea (yellow hybrid): clivias come from the summer rainfall areas of South Africa, and are generally forest under-storey plants, so they do well in shade. The relatively small number of species have flowers in the colour range yellow to orange-red, though breeders have extended this range to near white and pink. They are tough plants, needing little attention, and container plants will manage even if pot-bound. Seeds will germinate readily given the right treatment, though breeders have their own methods for this. It may take seedlings 4 to 7 years to flower. There are keen clivia breeders in South Africa itself, USA, Australia and Japan. In China breeders are concentrating on leaf variations and variegations.

Friday 25 October 2019

Friday 11 October 2019

Gladiolus orchidiflorus

Gladiolus orchidiflorus: There are about 255 species of gladioli, most coming from Africa, some winter growing from the Western Cape and others  growing in summer rainfall areas. Orchidiflorus is winter growing and spring flowering, the flower colour varying from greenish cream to purple, with dark purple markings. It is summer dormant. Most gladioli grow readily enough from seed, with the winter growing types planted in autumn. 

Dwarf iris Raspberry Jam

Iris (dwarf) Raspberry Jam:  This attractively coloured   dwarf bearded iris was introduced in 1981. This kind of iris likes a cold winter, and grows with minimal water in summer. It would look good in a large pot, though best re-potted each year after flowering and given some general purpose fertiliser. Bearded iris  prefer slightly alkaline soil. 

Albuca spiralis

Albuca spiralis: This comes from a large genus of South African bulbs, which are generally easy to grow in a well-drained position in full sun. They are summer dormant. The species shown comes from the Western Cape, and plants grown in full sun would normally have very twisted leaves, as suggested by the name. 

Tuesday 17 September 2019


Pamianthe is a small genus in the Amaryllidaceae family of two species from
Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia

Sunday 8 September 2019

Wurmbea stricta, Lachenailia bulbifera & Cyclamen

Wurmbea stricta (syn. Onixotis stricta) small flowers on a small plant which grows in the winter rainfall area of South Africa in marshes and pools, but needs a dry summer. Flowers emerge from a bulge in the plant stem.
Lachenalia bulbifera (tbc) the less common form of bulbifera from Still Bay on the south coast of South Africa, as mentioned in G D Duncan’s THE LACHENALIA HANDBOOK, p.47. The more widespread and common form is distinctly red flowered.

A double form of the florists’ cyclamen, picked out from a batch of single-flowered plants by the member. Whether one prefers species (always single-flowered) or cultivars is, of course, a matter of taste.