Crinum x powelli ‘Album’

Every year we enjoy searching through the catalogues and are nearly always tempted to try something a little different that we have not grown before.  In March 2018 we bought three Crinum x powelli ‘Album’ bulbs to see if we could successfully grow these dramatic plants with their large white trumpet flowers.

Although they are classed as fully hardy we thought we would be cautious and plant them in pots at first.  This would allow us to move them into the polytunnel in winter to give them some additional protection.  Crinum bulbs are simply enormous and so we had to get hold of some suitably large terracotta pots. We planted the bulbs in a mix of ⅔ John Innes No 3 compost and ⅓ perlite. We used perlite (instead of grit) to add extra drainage but also to reduce the overall weight.

Crinum bulb with 2p piece for scale
Huge Crinum bulb with 2p piece for scale

The plants grew well in the first year producing a profusion of large strappy leaves but no flowers.  We were warned that we might need to be patient (something we find a bit difficult!) and allow them to settle in.  Last year however, in early August, we were rewarded with the most wonderful display of large white trumpet flowers.  We had up to eight flowers per stem, opening in succession, on tall study stems.  They looked wonderful amongst the dahlias and blue agapanthus.

Over winter we have been protecting the pots in our cold polytunnel and I came across them yesterday as I was moving a number of small fruit trees.  They look comfortably dormant at the moment but it struck me that it might be timely to read up on how to prepare them for the coming season.

Anna Pavord’s book ‘Bulb’¹ advises that in the wild Crinums grow on the banks of streams or along lake shores. They require full sun but also require moist but well drained, organic rich soil.  Bearing in mind that the books also indicate that they hate root disturbance I think that I will carefully scrap away the top layer of soil and and give them a top dressing of fresh compost ready for the new year.

As the plants grow to 36 inches in height I think I probably need to be better at feeding and watering them next year.  I must admit that once the summer is in full swing we don’t always feed plants as much as we probably should.  However, I think I must try harder if these Crinums are to have all they need to grow their large leaves, flower profusely and maintain the bulb for the following year.

These are such lovely plants and if you have the space I would certainly recommend that you give them a go.

P1030237 Crinum
Picture taken on 3 August

Further information

Family: Amaryllidaceae

Hybrid: Crinum x powellii is a hybrid cross between C. moorei and C. bulbispermum

Further reading

¹ “Bulb” by Anna Pavord (ISBN 978-1-84533-415-4)

 

 

 

 

 

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Liatris

As we move towards late July we see a whole range of new plants coming to the fore.  Many of these have their origin on prairie grasslands.  One such plant is Liatris (common names Gay Feather or Blazing Star) which has its origins in the eastern United States of America.

Liatris is a hardy perennial which produces a number of thin, upright spikes of flowers growing out of clumps of narrow, grass-like leaves.  Both the purple and white versions are currently looking good in the garden despite the hot dry weather.

White Liatris growing with white Limonium
White Liatris showing the grass like leaves growing with white Limonium in the background

Rather surprisingly perhaps, Liatris is a member of the Asteraceae (the daisy family).  The flower spikes open from the top downwards and so if being used for arranging need to be cut early before the top of the flower spike has begun to turn brown.  In the garden this is less important and the flowers bring colour to the border for much longer.  Liatris provides good, strong vertical interest in both the border and in floral arrangements.

The plants die back completely in the winter and so it is useful to mark their position to avoid disturbing them when preparing the beds for other plants over the winter months.  Propagation by division in the spring is very straight forward and you will bulk up your plants very quickly.  They seem to thrive best when grown in full sun in moisture retentive soil but even in the parched soil of 2018 they still seem to be surviving pretty well.

Purple Liatris opens initially from the top of the flower
Purple Liatris opens initially from the top of the flower

As a cut flower the Liatris has a long vase life if conditioned correctly.  Nothing special is required, simply cut in the early morning and condition in cool water with flower food.  It is particularly important to remove any leaves blow the water level as these will discolour the water.

Hardy Perennial

Latin name:  Liatris spicata

Height: 60cm – 90cm

Family:  Asteraceae

Origin:  Eastern USA

Flowering period:  July to September


Honey Pot Flowers are wedding and celebration florists based in Warwickshire in the United Kingdom specialising in natural, locally grown seasonal flowers. We grow many of our own flowers allowing us to offer something very different and uniquely personal.

Zaluzianskya – Twilight Scent

Last autumn we were inspired by Lia Leendertz’s book Twilight Garden¹ and we undertook to increase the number of plants and flowers that come into their own in the evening light. Our aim was to increase the impact of the garden as the sun goes down adding walk ways of light and scented flowers around the garden and, in particular, in areas where we sit of an evening.

This summer has proved to be perfect – hot and dry and ideal for sitting out on those long balmy evenings.

There are a number of plants listed in Lia’s book that we have not come across before. One of these is Zaluzianskya or Night Phlox. It is a rather uninspiring plant during the heat of the day as all the flowers close up showing only the maroon undersides of the petals. Come the evening however, the flowers open into a myriad of shining white stars that seem to glow in the fading light. Their wonderful scent begins to hang in the air. Scents are often difficult to describe but we both feel the scent of Zaluzianskya is interestingly different from many other flowers. To my mind it is a complex aroma of honey and sweets with a spicy edge.

The species that we have grown from seed is Zaluzianskya capensis ‘Midnight Candy’ ( available from Chiltern Seeds ). Lia’s book talks also of a different species Zaluzianskya ovata which we may well try next year having had so much success with Z. capensis this year.

If you are looking to bring a new dimension to your garden in the evening this is something fun to try. It will certainly be a talking point if you use your garden for sitting out and entertaining.

On using Zaluzianskya as a cut flower the jury is still out. It does cut and we have placed it in water in small ‘jam-jar’ arrangements. The flowers do seem to open in the evening for a dinner party but we have found that the scent does not seem to be as intense as from those flowers opening in the fresh air on the patio. Why we are not yet sure. Our conclusion so far is therefore to grow it in small pots so that you can bring out the potted plants and place them strategically where you want them.

Well worth having a try if you have not grown this before.

Latin name: Zaluzianskya capensis

Height: 45cm

Hardy annual

Common name: Night Phlox

Native origins: South Africa

Family: Scrophulariaceae

Further Reading

¹ “Twilight garden – a guide to enjoying your garden in the evening hours” by Lia Leendertz (ISBN 9781862059115)

 


Honey Pot Flowers are wedding and celebration florists based in Warwickshire in the United Kingdom specialising in natural, locally grown seasonal flowers. We grow many of our own flowers allowing us to offer something very different and uniquely personal.