Germinating the seeds
Plant your seeds immediately for the best germination rate
» 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, sterilize the seeds by soaking for 10 minutes in a mix of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. Then rinse them well.
Prepare a soil mix of 2 parts potting soil and 1 part perlite, or a similar, well-draining mix. Fill a small plastic ziplock baggie about halfway with the soil mix, place the seeds on top, and cover them with an inch (2.5 cm) of soil. Water the soil just until evenly moist (not soggy). Zip up the baggie most of the way, leaving it open slightly for some fresh air to enter.
Instead of a baggie, you may use a small plastic Tupperware-type container. You will be digging the seeds out later, so don't use a big container or the seeds will be hard to find.
For the next 6 weeks, keep the baggie in an area that will stay about 65-75 degrees (17-24ºC). Cooler conditions at night are okay; avoid temperatures above 78ºF (26ºC) during the day. I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the baggie.
Whenever the soil starts drying out, water it. Again, don't keep the soil soggy.
After 6 weeks, zip up the baggie and move it into a refrigerator that stays above 37º F (2ºC). Inside the door is usually the warmest part of a refrigerator. 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.
After the 8 weeks in the refrigerator, pluck out the seeds and plant them 1/4 inch deep (7 mm) in individual pots 3-5 inches tall (8-12 cm). Use the same soil mix as before, and again keep them at 65-75 degree temperatures (17-24ºC) and keep the soil evenly moist. If you enclose the pots in a plastic container or bag to maintain moisture, leave it open slightly to allow fresh air to enter.
They should begin sprouting 4 to 8 weeks after removing them from the refrigerator, but allow up to 20 weeks for any slow ones, especially in cooler temperatures. Once they sprout give them bright light, but shade them from strong afternoon sun.
Transplanting -- Wait at least until the 2nd shoot appears before repotting. Move it to about a quart-sized pot (1 liter), which will hold it for a few months. You can then move it to its permanent home - about 5-10 gallons (20-40 liters), or into the ground in suitable areas.
Repot gently to avoid breaking apart the soil ball. Water the soil before transplanting, to keep it from breaking apart. Always shade the plant from prolonged sun for a week after transplanting.
Soil -- Bomarea likes humus-rich, well-draining soil. You may use high-quality potting soil mixed with added perlite or pumice rock, for extra drainage. Use about 2 parts soil to 1 part perlite. Don't add lime, since Bomarea likes slightly acid soil.
Watering -- Bomarea likes the soil kept evenly moist (but not soggy). If your tap water is "hard" or high in minerals, i recommend using bottled water or rain water.
Light -- Bomarea likes about a half a day of sun. It can take more sun in cool, coastal areas. It should be given some protection from strong afternoon sun, especially in warmer areas.
Climate -- Bomarea is happiest above 40-45 degrees (5ºC). The roots can take several degrees of frost, but it may kill the leaves. It's best to protect the plant from all frost, especially the first year or 2.
It warmer climates, don't plant it where heat can collect, like against a sunny wall. Mulch the plant to keep the roots cool and moist. Avoid using a black pot, which can overheat the roots. Even better, keep the pot shaded. Indoors, over about 40-50% humidity is best.
Fertilizing -- Bomarea has average fertilizer needs. Feed about every 2 months with a general-purpose fertilizer. For the 6 weeks though, it's best to feed weekly with a liquid fertilizer at about 1/8 of the usual dosage. Hydroponic fertilizer is ideal for this.
Up and away -- Bomarea likes to climb, so eventually it will need something to twine itself around, like a trellis, fence, or another plant. It should ideally be under 1 inch thick (3 cm), so the shoots can wrap around it. A 6 foot (2 meter) trellis should work, although larger is better if possible. 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.
By the way, 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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