Monday, April 9, 2012

These odd-shaped shrimp-red and cream flowers are long lasting.

Closeup of Eucrosia bicolor flowers.
Eucrosia bicolor (Amaryllidaceae) These odd-shaped shrimp-red and cream flowers are long lasting and have exaggerated long filaments.  Planted shallow together in one pot  and close together, they will happily form large clumps with new offshoots sometimes actually growing above the soil line. Leaves are very wide and freely produced for an attractive clump year round - being nearly evergreen - they make good houseplants in the northern regions. As individual leaves begin to yellow, simply pinch off and shortly a new leaf will be produced. 

In USDA Zones 9 and 10, they are best planted outdoors all year for easy care. In our more northern location (Northwest Washington State) we grow them in 4 and 6-inch pots and when an individual comes into bloom during summer it is brought into the house in a window, then placed back with it's siblings until bloom again. Bulbs may wait a year before blooming if large or bloom a couple of times a year if even small, seed-grown originally, so there is differing attributes which make them fun to grow as they can be unpredictable at times.

6 small Eucrosia bicolor bulbs planted in a 5 inch pot.
Do not leave outdoors if there is danger of frost, we lost an entire crop when the thermometer dropped to 32 degrees F. last fall.  They probably would have not been affected if the soil was drier, but the trays had just been watered.

On our trip to the San Francisco Flower and Garden show this past March, we stopped overnight on the southern edge of the Siskiyou Mountains for the night and although the bulbs were buried in the middle of the load, we lost the top layer when the temperature dropped to 27 degrees F.   Lesson learned:  Put the perishable food in the bulb trays if the temperatures are expected to be below freezing and keep the tropical bulbs in the insulated cooler to take into the room!  The pot shown here was planted about a month earlier with some bulbs sending up stems before leaves and others just sending up leaves.  They are a species bulb and will do as they wish, so don't be concerned should only leaves emerge first. 

WARNING: Do not use potting soil with "added fertilizer" or you may have a lovely crop of leaves, but not flowers. Fertilize lightly when the leaves are in active growth with a balanced formula, not one high in nitrogen.

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