Establishment & growth

We keep detailed records of the acquisition and subsequent performance of all bulbs we receive, whatever the source. These records extend over many years and yield interesting information on the establishment (or not) of newly acquired bulbs and their growth and increase in subsequent years.

Newly acquired varieties exhibit one of three establishment strategies:-

  1. No problem. Plants in this category settle straight away, increasing annually at a steady rate and displaying their true flower and leaf characteristics from the outset.
  2. Difficult. Plants in this category fail to establish with us, dwindling and dying out within a few years of arrival. It has, for instance, taken us four or five attempts to get Mighty Atom established here.
  3. Wait and See. This by far the commonest occurence with us. Plants in this category survive and establish. However, they will take a number of growing seasons before increasing and displaying their true characteristics. Colossus took several seasons before increasing and several further seasons before growing to full size or flowering early.

Mrs. Thomson is an example of the last group and a detailed examination of its' performance with us is revealing.

In February 2003 we obtained Mrs. Thomson, in the green, from two different sources. Both groups of bulbs were treated the same but kept separate. For three growing seasons neither group of bulbs increased in number; furthermore both groups always produced perfectly normal flowers and always a single flower on each scape. However, they appeared, grew and flowered at different times. One group was two or three weeks earlier than the other.. The continual production of normal single headed flowers made us wonder if they were indeed Mrs. Thomson.

After three growing seasons, the bulbs began to increase in number and the difference in flowering time decreased and disappeared. We now had two vigorously growing clumps of bulbs which seemed to be identical, but always produced normal single-headed flowers. After six years with us, both clumps began producing their characteristically eccentric flowers and have done so ever since.

My theory is that as amaryllids they resent disturbance and probably don't like change either. As snowdrops, however, they are ultimately fairly adaptable. Both groups of Mrs. Thomson had adapted to the conditions they encountered at their previous nurseries and then each adapted, from different starting points, to the conditions they encountered here; taking six years to complete the transition.

The record for sulking is held by a bulb of Ophelia. It was bought from Broadleigh Gardens in 2000. It comes up (rather late) each year but has yet to flower or produce an offset; just two leaves every spring!