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. Simply rub off any mold on a wet towel, or carefully rinse them in water.
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.
It's best to plant 1 seed per pot. 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 65-78 degrees (17-26ºC). 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). If you place them in a plastic dome or bag to maintain moisture, leave it partially open to allow fresh air to enter, to prevent stem rot later.
The seeds tend to sprout at different times, usually starting at around 6 weeks and continuing for a few months. If any don't sprout after 4 months, put them in the refrigerator for 6 weeks, to trick them into thinking winter has passed. Enclose the pots in a plastic container or bag, and mark your calendar to check on them after 2 weeks, in case any sprout in the refrigerator.
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 some liquid fertilizer at 1/8 strength.
Transplanting -- Wait at least until the 2nd shoot is almost as tall as the first before repotting. Move it to about a pint-sized pot (0.5 liter), which will hold it for several 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.
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 one 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 9-12 months it will need something narrow to twine itself around, like a 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.
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.
The tubers are food storage organs, and separating them can damage the plant, so don't dig them up.
Pests to watch for -- Snails and slugs can be a problem in prone areas. Watch for other pests that are common in your area.
Feel free to contact me if you have questions.
Have fun growing them!
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