Great Haseley and District Horticultural Society - May 2017


Computer problems have troubled me while writing this month.

  I have learned the hard way to check that Word is saving my document as I go along.  This morning Word crashed while I was saving the completed article and I was only able to recover part of the article.  A second crash lost everything so here is another version of the original article….

This week I have turned my attention to my pots of Zantedeschia (common name Calla Lily) which have spent the winter dry under the greenhouse staging.  This is a perennial flowering plant which is native to southern Africa.  The plants resemble our common ‘Lords’n’Ladies’ and have colourful flowers.  They form a tuber/rhizome (I’m unclear which is the correct botanic name for the structure) underground rather like Begonias.  They are commonly sold in garden centres from around this time of year as pot plants suitable for summer bedding out, but can also be purchased as the dry tuber.  Having grown these plants for some years now I am always surprised how expensive they are as propagation is easy even for complete beginners.

With the first two plants I grew, when autumn came and the leaves died back, I put the pots under the greenhouse staging for the winter and commenced watering in early spring.  This was a mistake as April to May is early enough as there is a risk of rotting the tubers if they sit in wet compost at cold temperatures.  I eventually tipped out the pots assuming the plants had died, but, to my surprise, they had not and so I was rewarded with another summer of flowers.

After another couple of years, I tipped the whole lot out prior to watering to replace in fresh compost.  I was surprised to see how big the tubers were and how many there were and I have been propagating them ever since.  The plants are easy to care for requiring not too much water and just feeding like other summer displays.  Overwintering can be done in their dried-out pots or as dry tubers in a frost-free place such as a shed.  In spring simply plant the tubers just below the surface of the compost with the smooth surface at the bottom and the points on top and water (sparingly until the shoots show) and wait.  Interestingly the thick white roots, rather like shoe laces, grow from the top surface.

I have just potted up several different colours ready for Great Milton Fete.  Why not give them a try?

The recent lovely weather seems to have thwarted yet again my attempts at growing plants from seed in my sunny greenhouse.  I have one Cosmos seedling; when will I learn?  This is yet another triumph of hope over bitter experience.  I will start again in the house and see if I can do better. On a happier note, last year a gardening friend gave me some seed from an interesting plant with yellow flowers called Glaucium flavium or yellow horned poppy; it grows only at the seaside and is protected, but the seeds can be readily purchased online.  I sowed these and nothing happened so I left the pot behind the greenhouse (never be too hasty to empty out seed pots – sometimes seeds take a long time to germinate or need a cold winter to break their dormancy) and was about to empty it yesterday when I noted three seedlings, glaucus (greyish) in type so I have three tiny plants that I have to attempt to keep alive.  I think neglect and leaving them to nature seems a good plan as that is what I have done so far!

Liz Moyses

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