Germinating the seeds
Plant your seeds immediately for the best germination rate
» Your seeds might arrive with some mold on them, since they are sent moist. If they have mold, simply rub it off on a wet towel. A little mold on them will not affect germination.
» These seeds sprout best if placed in the refrigerator for 8 weeks, after an initial 6 weeks at room temperature. This tricks the seeds into thinking that winter has passed. The tips below explain the process.
First, soak the seeds for 24 hours in a cup of water (not more than 48 hours).
Use small pots or cups that have drainage holes. They should be at least 2 inches (6 cm) tall.
For soil, use a well draining mix. I use a mix of 1 part coco fiber to 1 part perlite (use small- or medium-size perlite, not large chunks). An alternate mix is 2 parts quality potting soil to 1 part perlite. Don't add lime to the mix.
Fill the pots, place a seed in each container, and cover with 1/4 inch (1 cm) of soil. Add water until even moist. For the next 6 weeks, keep them in an area that will stay about 65-77 degrees (17-25ºC). Cooler night temperatures are okay; avoid temperatures above 80ºF (27ºC) for prolonged periods. I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots.
Keep the soil surface moist (but not soggy). I don't recommend placing them in a plastic dome or bag to maintain moisture, keep it open slightly to allow fresh air to enter.
After 6 weeks, seal them in a plastic container or strong bag, and place them into a refrigerator that stays above 37º F (2ºC). Keep them there for 8 weeks. There is a small chance they will sprout in the refrigerator, so mark your calendar to check on them after the second and fourth week, and remove any that have sprouted.
Remove them after 8 weeks in the refrigerator, and keep them at the same temperature range stated earlier. If you enclose the pots in a plastic container to maintain moisture, leave it open slightly to allow some fresh air to enter, to prevent stem rot later.
They tend to sprout at different times, with most of them sprouting around 6 to 10 weeks after removing them from the refrigerator, but occasionally up to 4 months.
Once they sprout give them bright light out of strong sun. A bright LED or fluorescent lamp kept 3 inches (8 cm) away provides the right amount of light (See: "Growing indoors with LED lights").
Fertilizing -- The first 3 months, feed weekly with a small amount of dilute (1/8 strength) liquid fertilizer. Hydroponic fertilizer is ideal for small seedlings, because it is easily absorbed and contains all essential nutrients. After 3 months, you may switch to a granular fertilizer that contains micronutrients, following the dosage on the package. Or continue feeding weekly with liquid fertilizer at 1/8 strength.
Transplanting -- Wait at least until the 2nd shoot has grown in before repotting. Move it to about a pint-sized pot (0.5 liter), which will hold it for a few months. Repot gently to avoid breaking apart the soil ball, which can damage the roots. Watering the soil before transplanting will help keep the soil ball together.
Once it has 4-5 shoots, you can then move it to a 1 gallon (4 liter) pot for a year, and then into the ground in suitable areas, or into a 5-10 gallon (20-40 liters) container, which can be its permanent home.
Watering -- Keep the soil evenly moist (but not constantly saturated). Don't let it dry out completely. If you're unsure if the root zone is moist enough, use a moisture meter.
Light -- It likes about a half a day of sun. It prefers more sun in cool, coastal areas, while in warmer areas it should be given some protection from strong afternoon sun.
Climate -- Most Bomareas come from cloud forests of the Andes mountains, where temperatures are mild all year and nights are cool. Most Bomareas don't thrive in hot climates, especially if nights are warm. It's possible that this plant will not perform well if temperatures consistently get above 85° F (30°C) and nights are above 65° F (18°C). The foliage may be killed by frost, but the tubers should be hardy to at least 25°F (-4°C). Indoors, over about 40% humidity is best.
Up and away -- Bomarea likes to climb, so after about a year it will need something narrow to twine itself around, like a large trellis. If the shoots grow too long, wrap them down and around your trellis. Don't prune the shoots, since the flowers appear from the growing tips.
The tubers should not be dug up, as this may damage the plant. The tubers are food storage organs, and separating them can damage the plant.
Pests to watch for -- Snails and slugs can be a problem in prone areas. Watch for bugs that are common in your area.
Feel free to contact me if you have questions.
Have fun growing them!
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