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, soak the seeds for 12-24 hours in a cup of water (not more than 36 hours.
Use small containers that have drainage holes, such as seedling starter trays. For soil, use a well draining mix. I use a mix of 1 part coir fiber to 1 part perlite (use fine- or medium-grade perlite, not coarse-grade). An alternate mix is 2 parts quality potting soil to 1 part perlite. Don't add lime to the mix.
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 conditions at night 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). If you place the pots in a plastic dome or bag to maintain moisture, keep it open slightly to allow fresh air to enter, to avoid stem rot later.
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 should begin sprouting around 6 to 8 weeks after removing them from the refrigerator, but allow up to 20 weeks for any slow ones. Once they sprout give them bright light, but shade them from strong afternoon sun.
Fertilizing -- Feed weekly with a very dilute (1/8 strength) liquid fertilizer. Hydroponic fertilizer is ideal for this, because it is easily absorbed and contains all essential nutrients. I use General Hydroponics Flora fertilizer, using 1 teaspoon/gallon (5 mL per 4 liters). After 6-8 weeks, 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 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.
If the older leaves appear pale/yellowish, the soil may be too dry down in the root zone. If soil moisture levels have been fine, the plant may need more nitrogen fertilizer.. especially if light levels are high.
Watering -- Bomarea likes the soil kept evenly moist (but not soggy). Don't let it dry out. If you're unsure if the root zone is moist enough, use a moisture meter.
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 -- 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 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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