SA bulb newbie

Pagancat(Phoenix, AZ)December 1, 2004

Hi folks-

I usually live on the Arizona forum, but have recently been turned into a fan of the beautiful and bizarre world of So. African bulbs - myself and 2 other AZ Gweebers put in an order to Jim Duggan's site and I have nice sprouts, I may even have my first bloom this morning (I'd tell you what it is, but the last minute planting didn't allow me to be intelligent enough to actually ID the last three.)

So, I've had a tough time finding out hardiness on these lovelies. I have Ferraria despunculata and Spraxis elegans, from there it's a few Freesia (some that aren't readily available at the nurseries) some Oringnathalums (Sorry if I slaughtered the spelling on that one, it looks a lot longer than I remember it to be...) a Watsonia something and two more that I'm just lost on.

Assuming that these are like other bulbs, their requirements are probably all over the board, but any hints are so welcome! Additionally, if there are sites that you like to purchase from and are comfortable with, I'd love to delve deeper...


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hi, the sparaxis, freesia, ornithogalum and watsonia do prefer a frost free climate, they can tolerate a bit of frost but not much or for long.about all your freesia and sparaxis need is rain in winter and a dry summer to keep them happy, you can fertilise when theyre growing if you like and let the foliage die down before you cut it off (this is when the bulbs store any energy back into the bulb for next year). I find that all they really need is some good soil and rain/drought at the right time and thats about it.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2004 at 6:17AM
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Hello Pagancat,

From what I have read, most are hardy to at least 25 degrees. As transgemini noted, the most important thing is to keep them dry during the summer. Freesias and Watsonias tolerate some moisture here during the summer, but we don't get nearly as hot as you; soil temperatures in the sun rarely exceed 80 degrees.


    Bookmark   December 16, 2004 at 10:27AM
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Pagancat(Phoenix, AZ)

Thank you both for the info - seems this year we're to get the best of both worlds - 110+ in the summer and now our second round of freezing weather, but it's all good. Gotta kill off some of those bugs.

My Ornithogalum bloomed sweetly, now I just have to wait for the others to wake up.

Thank you again!

    Bookmark   December 20, 2004 at 10:27PM
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Can anyone vouch for Cape Bulbs and Seeds (a company on the web in South Africa). They have a good variety of bulbs and I am on the verge of doing business with them but need to know if they are a good company before I go ahead with an order.

Many thanks


    Bookmark   December 22, 2004 at 12:25AM
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MarcR(z 8 OR)


I'm not familiar with them. I would suggest a minimum order. If you are satisfied you can buy more later. I would not buy bulbs from SA unless you can get a phyto cert without spending a fortune. Phyto certification is technically required for seed too but enforcement is very lax for non-commercial shipments properly labeled and declared. You might want to phone them with your credit card info so you can keep it safe. I just realized you are from Ireland so I have no idea what Phyto certification if any you will require.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2005 at 3:08PM
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deeds1(the far SWUK-9)

Nuggy, don't forget that along with the high cost of shipping, about £15 - £20 for the phyto cartificate there is also an additional inspection charges to import into the UK or EU countries, that came into force in January for the UK. It's is about £40 per consignment and really makes importing small quantites very costly, and there is VAT and duty to pay as well. Even if the bulbs are reasonable to start with, they work out pretty expensive after all this is taken into consideration.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2005 at 5:26PM
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