Saturday, July 23, 2016

Clumping together – how exciting!

I'm afraid that this is what passes for excitement in my quiet life ... my scadoxus clump is getting bigger.

Fatherhood might have eluded me in my human attempts at propagation (although as an Uncle I am proud to have achieved greatness, thanks to my productive nieces and nephews). So the only chance I get to wear the label of "proud father" is when a seed I have planted miraculously survives my care and turns into a plant. And that's happening now. So, without further ado, let me explain ...

Exhibit A: scadoxus in bloom in September each year

Purely to set the scene, and besides, it's the most spectacular
photo in this posting, so it comes first. Each flower head is
about four inches (10-12cm) across, sitting on top of a 30cm
(12-inch) stalk. They're a South African native, and the blooms
absolutely steal the show for about 3-4 weeks each year.

Exhibit B: close-up of flower, where the seeds form

Exhibit C: seeds ripen from green to red (much later on, in summer)

Looking like a morning-after party animal, at first all seeds
are green ...
... then slowly but surely, by midsummer a few seeds remain
and have turned red. So I plant these straight away into a
pot of potting mix. Next, I do nothing for 6 months.

Well "do nothing" is not strictly true. I do occasionally water the pot if rain hasn't done its duty, but that's it. And I leave the little pot of potted-up seeds out in the garden, in the same shady spot where the in-ground scadoxus live.

And so here we are, midwinter, and the pots of scadoxus seeds are sprouting!

Meanwhile, in the official scadoxus patch a few feet away ...

From the original three bulbs given to me by former Burke's Backyard gardening editor, the excellent Geoffrey Burnie, back in 2009, we now have at least five adult scadoxus blooms forming, plus another nine "children" who may or may not flower this year. I'll just have to wait and see in early September.

Add to that the two pots of seedlings (I can see eight coming up so far) and our little clump of easy-care, shade-loving scadoxus is thriving nicely.

I'm not sure when I'll plant out the seedlings in the pots. I think it'd probably be wise to leave them in their pots for all of this spring and summer, then in autumn (when I harvest the next batch of ripe, red seeds) I'll plant out the seedlings and pot up next season's seeds.

As I mentioned earlier on, this is all rather pleasing and exciting to me. Gardening's like that, something you can still get excited about, just like a kid, but without injuring yourself in your fragile old age.