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 is to trick the seeds into thinking winter has passed. The tips below explain the process.
First, rinse each seed well under running water.. being careful not to drop them down the drain!
Prepare a soil mix of 2 parts sterilized potting soil and 1 part perlite (an alternate mix is equal parts coir fiber and perlite). 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 80ºF (27ºC). 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 every 2 weeks, 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).
They should start sprouting 4 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.
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.
Watering -- Bomarea likes the soil kept evenly moist (but not soggy). You can monitor the soil moisture using a moisture meter probe, which you can get from most garden and home improvement stores for about $5.
If your tap water is "hard" or high in minerals, i recommend using bottled water or rain water.
Light -- Bomarea likes about a half 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.
Transplanting -- Wait at least until the 2nd shoot emerges before repotting your seedlings. A quart-sized pot (1 liter) will hold each plant for several 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 the soil ball together. For the first week after repotting, shade the plant from prolonged sun, and don't feed it.
Fertilizing -- Bomarea has average fertilizer needs. Feed about every 2 months with a slow release (pelleted or organic) fertilizer.
It's normal for an older shoot to occasionally die throughout the year, but if it seems excessive, it could be from not enough fertilizer (nitrogen) or under-watering.
Up and away -- Bomarea likes to climb, so give it 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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