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Turquoise Puya

 

Turquoise Ixia

Ixia viridiflora

Ixia viridiflora

Germinating the seeds

 

When to plant -- Your seeds should be planted in autumn, around late September/October in the Northern hemisphere.  Until then, they should be stored in their envelope in a cool spot. 

Soil -- The soil should be well draining, to keep the bulbs from rotting.  A typical mix is half potting soil and half perlite or coarse sand.  An alternate mix is 3 parts perlite to 2 parts coir fiber, with some slow-release fertilizer added.  Screen the perlite to remove any large chunks.  If you use potting soil and it contains fertilizer, do not add additional fertilizer to your mix.

Pot size - You may use a communal pot for all the seeds, or smaller pots for 1-2 seeds.  Either way, the pot should be about 5-6 inches tall (15 cm), and wide enough so that each seed can be planted about 1 to 2 inches (4-5 cm) from the next one, and from the edge of the pot.  The pot needs drainage holes.  Avoid using a black pot, which may overheat the roots.  Ceramic pots are ideal.

Sowing -- Before planting the seeds, soak them in water for 4 to 6 hours (not more than 12 hours).  Fill the pots with the soil mix and water it until evenly moist (but not soggy).  Place the seeds about 1 to 2 inches apart and cover with inch (4 mm) of soil, then lightly water the top soil. 

 Until the seeds sprout, make sure the top soil layer doesn't dry out.  If you put the pots in a plastic dome or bag to maintain moisture, leave it open slightly for fresh air to enter.

 The seeds sprout best between about 65 to 75 F (15-23C).  Avoid letting them get warmer than 78 F (25C).  I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots, to ensure the seeds stay at the right temperature. 

 They should begin sprouting after about 4-6 weeks, although allow up to 10 weeks for any slow ones.

Sunlight -- Once your seeds sprout, move the pot to a sunny spot.  They will need mostly-sunny conditions during the winter.  Some afternoon shade might be needed in regions of strong, hot sun.

Watering:  Aim to the soil evenly moist throughout the growing season.  Avoid letting it dry out completely, but also avoid keeping it waterlogged.  You may use a moisture meter to monitor the soil moisture down at the root level.  You can buy this at garden and hardware stores inexpensively.

Feeding -- This species has relatively low fertilizer requirements, and strong fertilizers should be avoided.  Feed once during the growing season using a slow release fertilizer (pelleted or organic) fertilizer.  The second year, feed twice during the growing season.

 If your potting soil contains fertilizer, your seedlings shouldn't need feeding the first month of growth. 

Frost protection -- The plants must be protected from freezing temperatures.  You may grow them indoors in a sunny window.

Wind protection - The grass-like leaves and flower stems are somewhat fragile and may need support in very strong winds, or moved to a protected spot.

Preparing for dormancy -- The biggest risk of mold is during the "senescent" period, while the leaves are dying back in the Spring.  Water very cautiously during this time, giving just enough water to keep the soil from becoming bone-dry.

Dormancy -- The bulbs (technically corms) will go dormant in late Spring and should be kept dry and at room temperature until the Fall.  I recommend leaving the dormant corms in their pot the first summer, since they will be small and hard to find if you dig them up.

Have fun growing them!

Jeff

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Turquoise Puya

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