Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Gloriosa superba, the national flower of Zimbabwe

A climbing lily...seems like overkill. These particular plants are growing outside the entrance to theAdministration Building at the Arboretum. They've been there at least 5 years, which is interesting. This is a plant that is in theory hardy only to USDA Zone 9-10. I have coveted it since I was, well for at least 45 years. It's always been listed in bulb catalogs as suitable for pot culture but its also one of those geophytes that is never, in my experience, sold at blooming size so you not only had to grow it in a pot, you had to then overwinter it above freezing. That's a lot of work and thought and attention. Still, I did it a few times. And a few times I tried deep planting, heavy mulching, and overwintering here in Zone 7, without any luck.

Dry is retrospect I suspect I could have overwintered it in the ground at my parent's house under the 2' south facing overhand. I didn't know that at the time though and now I wonder if this isn't one more plant that is hardy here now(in Zone 8b ha ha) that wasn't before. Thank you Global Warming. The plants in the picture have always benefited from being on a ~south facing wall. Moreover, they are the beneficiaries of whatever heat diffuses out of the building in the winter. Nice situation. And yet I think they are worth trying in situations that are maybe not quite that optimal. Look at them!

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