Imagine our excitement recently to see a flower spike emerging on our Worsleya plant. This beautiful Amaryllid is a native of Brazil. We've had it now for about 15 years and it has flowered several times, but missed a year last year. This time it is better than ever - AND I now have a digital camera so have been in and out the last few days recording it's every move!
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There seem to be many different opinions out there on how to grow this wonderful bulb. I can only tell you how we grow it here in Auckland, New Zealand. The plant is now about 15 years old and has been outdoors all it's life, so it gets everything that's going. We get wet winters and often quite a lot of rain at times in the summer too. It is exposed to any wind that's blowing, and has to suffer occasional hailstorms! The only thing we don't get is frost in the winter, and in summer the temperature rarely goes above 30 C. It is in a very well drained mix consisting of peat and pumice sand, with a slow release bulb fertiliser incorporated. Virtually the entire bulb is above the surface of the mix. Some people give a feed of dried blood in the summer, but I don't. Have potted it up this year from a 17" clay pot to a half wine barrel.
The following information come from Ian Black, an International Bulb Society member in the UK :
There is quite a long description of Worsleya rayneri in "The Vanishing Garden - a Conservation Guide to Garden Plants", by Chris Brickell and Fay Sharman - published 1986. This fascinating book - which covers rarities deemed at that time to be at risk of vanishing from cultivation - also covers Pamianthe.On the basis that many people won't have access to it, I thought it worth paraphrasing. There is a colour illustration of the plant flowering, & a couple of line drawings too.
The genus is named after Arthington Worsley, "..a mining engineer who travelled extensively in S. America, & became a specialist in bulbous plants on his retirement to Middlesex". The flower colour is "deep blue-mauve or blue-violet, fading almost to white in the centre and often copiously flecked red-purple. ...distinguished from the closely related genera Hippeastrum and Amaryllis not only by the flower colour but by the long false stems, some 2 to 5 feet on mature plants. These are made up of the tightly folded bases of the leathery evergreen leaves, scimitar shaped and pendent, which may themselves be up to 3 feet long."
In habitat, the bulb grows " exposed positions in full sun. The bulbs are anchored to the soft, porous, granite-like rock by fleshy, thong-like roots.These penetrate deeply into crevices filled with black leafmould." Worsley himself wrote (in 1929) about these bulbs "..growing on ledges..with little foothold but the ...heavy storms often fling hundreds of great bulbs down the precipices. But they obtain some support from a species of twining Philodendron which intertwines itself among the bulbs and their roots, and forms a kind of rope ....."
Normal min. night temps. are reported to be 40-45 F in the dry winter months, subject to occasional ground frosts. In summer, the temp.seldom exceeds 80F & the air is saturated by brief evening thunderstorms that constantly occur in the mountains.
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I bet that's got all you bulb fanatics salivating! For those of you who have been watching this space I'm delighted to say that, as a result of swapping some pollen with another grower in New Zealand we got some viable seed which is now germinating very well. Stay in touch!