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Turquoise Puya

 

Turquoise Ixia

Turquoise Ixia viridiflora

Ixia viridiflora

 

Planting the bulbs

 

When to plant -- Your bulbs (technically corms) will sprout in autumn, around late September or early October in the Northern hemisphere (in the South Hemisphere, late March/April).  Until then, store them in a paper bag.  Or you may plant them in soil, if it is kept completely dry until autumn.  Either way, keep them in a cool spot until then, out of direct sunlight.

Pot size -- The pot should be about 6 inches tall (15 cm) and each bulb should be about 1.5 inches (4 cm) from the next one, and from the edge of the pot.  If temperatures tend to get above the low 70s (23C) in winter or spring, use an oversized clay pot to keep the bulbs cool (or place a smaller pot inside a larger one that is filled with soil).  Avoid dark colored pots, since they absorb more heat.

Soil -- Use fast-draining soil.  A typical mix is 1 part quality potting soil to 2 parts coarse horticultural sand or perlite (use small- or medium-sized perlite, not large chunks).  An alternate mix 1 part coir fiber to 2 parts perlite or coarse sand, with some granular fertilizer mixed in.  If you are in a high-rainfall area, or you tend overwater your plants, use slightly more perlite or sand to whichever mix you use.

Planting the bulb --  Plant the bulb with the smooth, domed end up (the other end may have a "puckered" look - this is where the roots were attached).  If you're unsure which end is "up", just plant them sideways and they will grow upwards.  The top of the bulb should be about 1 to 2 inches (4-5 cm) under the surface (slightly deeper in warm climates, to keep the bulbs cool).

 Water the soil *lightly*.  Use just enough water to lightly moisten the soil throughout.  Until they sprout, keep them between about 50 and 77 degrees F (10-25C).

Sunlight -- Once they sprout in autumn, move them to a sunny spot.  This Ixia prefers mostly-sunny conditions.  I find they can tolerate less sun in winter if they receive more sun in spring.  Some afternoon shade might be needed in regions of strong, hot sun.

Watering:  Aim to keep the soil evenly moist throughout the growing season.  Avoid letting it dry out completely, but also don't keep it soggy.  If you're unsure if the soil has the proper moisture in the root zone, use a moisture meter.

Feeding -- This species has relatively low fertilizer requirements.  Feed about 2 weeks after they sprout, and again 2-3 months later.  Use an all-purpose fertilizer that contains micronutrients.  Avoid feeding them after February (August in the Southern Hemisphere).

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

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

Dormancy care -- There is a risk of mold during the "senescent" period, while the leaves are dying back, which occurs after the plant has flowered in the Spring and is preparing for dormancy.  Water very cautiously during this time, giving just enough water to keep the soil from becoming fully dry.

 Once the leaves have completely died back, you may either leave them in their pot, or remove the bulbs and separate the baby corms.  Store any removed bulbs in a paper bag in a cool spot until autumn  

Pests -- I've never noticed any insects on them, but mealy bugs are reported to like the bulbs.

Have fun growing them!

- Jeff

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