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Turquoise Puya

 

Turquoise Ixia

Turquoise Ixia viridiflora

Ixia viridiflora

 

Planting the bulbs

 

When to plant -- Your bulbs (technically corms) will sprout in autumn, around late September/October in the Northern hemisphere.  Until then, store them in a paper bag.  Or you may plant them in soil, if it is kept completely dry until autumn.  Either way, keep them in a cool spot until then, out of direct sunlight.

Pot size -- The pot should be about 6 inches tall (15 cm) and each bulb should be about 2-3 inches (6 cm) from the next one, and from the edge of the pot.  The pot needs drainage holes.  To keep the bulbs from overheating, it's best to use a ceramic pot of a lighter color.

Soil -- This Ixia needs well-draining soil.  A typical mix is 1 part potting soil to 1 part coarse horticultural sand.  An alternate mix is 1 parts coir fiber, 1 part coarse sand and 1 part pumice rock, with some slow-release fertilizer mixed in (see the "fertilizer" section below).

Planting the bulb --  To reduce the chance of rot, surround the bulb with a layer of coarse sand.  The way to do this is to fill the pot to within 2 inches (5 cm) of the top with your soil mix, then lay down a thin (1/4 inch / 6 mm) layer of sand, place the bulbs on this, add some more sand until they are covered, then continue filling the pot with soil.  Plant the bulb with the smooth, domed end up (the other end may have a "puckered" look - this is where the roots were attached).  If you're unsure which end is "up", just plant them sideways.  The top of the bulb should be about a 1 to 2 inches (4-5 cm) under the surface.

 Water the soil lightly - just enough to keep the soil evenly moist throughout (but not soggy).  Keep the pot at room temperature until the bulbs sprout.

Sunlight -- Once they sprout, move them to a sunny spot.  This Ixia prefers full sun, although some afternoon shade might be needed in regions of strong, hot sun.

Watering:  Aim to keep the soil evenly moist throughout the growing season.  Avoid letting it dry out completely, but also don't keep it soggy.  You may use a moisture meter to monitor the soil moisture down at the root level.  You can buy this at garden and hardware stores inexpensively.  Simply stick the probe in the soil to the level where the roots are.

Feeding -- This species has relatively low fertilizer requirements, so strong fertilizers should be avoided.  Feed once or twice during the growing season using a slow release (pelleted or organic) fertilizer.  If your potting soil contains fertilizer (check the package) your bulbs shouldn't need feeding the first month.

Frost protection -- The plants must be protected from freezing temperatures.  You may grow them indoors in a sunny room.

Dormancy care -- The biggest risk of mold is during the "senescent" period, while the leaves are dying back, which occurs after the plant has flowered in the Spring and is preparing for dormancy.  Water very cautiously during this time, giving just enough water to keep the soil from becoming bone-dry.

 Once the leaves have completely died back, you may remove the bulbs if you wish and separate the baby corms.  Store them in a paper bag in a cool spot until autumn  

The bulbs are relatively short-lived and may need to be replaced either by seed or bulblets after 4-6 years.

Pests -- I haven't had trouble with insects, but mealy bugs are reported to like the bulbs.

Have fun growing them!

- Jeff

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