Diary - Feb 2006
Despite the cold dull winter the plants seem to have come through well and are begging to be watered, some of the Mammillarias are already budding up. I shall wait for this very cold spell to finish before I get busy with the watering can.
Each year more and more plants have to spend the winter in my unheated greenhouse. I don’t leave my best plants there, or any that I could not bear to lose. It is interesting though to look at what can take temperatures as low as -6 centigrade without suffering unduly. There are about a hundred various Lithops there and they look just as good as those that are kept frost free. Most of my Rebutias are quite happy with the cold as are the Echevarias. In fact the Echevaria seems to produce their most colourful leaves when they overwinter dry and cold. The cold house also contains some marked elderly plants that I could not bear to part with but was not prepared to give space to in the heated house, these include a multiheaded Copiapoa humilis, Notocactus magnificus, Parodia chrysacanthion, Mammillaria laui, Opuntia erinacea, Gasteria bicolour, Gasteria “black boy”, Euphorbia obesa, Titanopsis etc. All came through unscathed. The only plants that have died from the cold are a couple of Crassulas which I knew were cold sensitive but left to take their chance as I had more of the same in the heated area. I seems to me that many of our plants are a lot more hardy than we think and that we unnecessarily burn fuel to give them heat that they don’t need.
The Brighamia which flowered over a number of weeks in the Autumn has not produced any seeds despite my attempts at pollination. It is likely that they are not self fertile and I will need to try to locate someone else with a flowering size plant to see if we can persuade the plants to seed next Autumn.
The first Lithops seeds are beginning to germinate so I feel that Spring is really with us. I like to sow them early in the year to give them maximum growing time before I have to withhold water in the winter. I have tried sowing them in The Autumn and keeping them growing throughout their first winter but at the end of their first year they were no bigger than the seedlings from a February start.
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