Getting hymenocallis to bloom

cnid(z5b Ont Canada)January 20, 2009

I have a bulb I got on sale called Ismene, but I am quite sure the proper name is hymenocallis. It grows well in a pot for me for 3 summers now. Gorgeous green foliage and bigger every year but not the slightest hint that it will bloom. Anyone know what I should (or should not) do to get it to bloom?

It is in full sun from dawn until about 2. Probably a bit crowded in the pot. Watered haphazardly but I am not so neglectful that it wilts. I don't feed it.

I overwinter in the pot - in fall, I let frost hit it once and cut off the leaves. Stored in a cool dark basement after the soil dries out. It seems okay with this because it gets better each year.

Thanks for any help.


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bluebonsai101(6a PA)

Hi C, Ismene is a different genus, and you likely have Ismene festalis....that said, they like full sun all day long, lots and lots and lots of water (they can be grown as a marginal aquatic if you want and they can be fed heavily. I've had one for around 10 years now and from one bulb I have more than 300 now......many were sold or traded of course.....if well taken care of they will offset like weeds.....your winter care is the same as mine. I would suggest more water and more sun and more fertilizer, but even then you rarely get an individual bulb to flower every year in zone 6 in my experience. A blooming size bulb can be as large as a good size fist. Hope this helps at least a little bit :o) Dan

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 8:15PM
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I bought one of these last year... I found it at Home Depot, I believe... and the bulb was very small, but inexpensive, so I thought I'd try it. It began to send up a few weak leaves, and then it died. I still can't figure out what I did wrong, but judging what you say about their culture, Dan, I probably killed it by allowing it to become too dry.

If Home Depot carries these again this year, I'll try again. They're really a very pretty flower, and now that I have better accommodations for my indoor bulbs over winter, it should do a lot better! Well, anything is better than death, so... :-)

Thanks for the tips, Dan. Now I'm kind of excited to see the offerings of this spring at our local stores!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2009 at 8:13AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

"Maybe a bit crowded in the pot" These like the room to expand. I grow three in an 15 inch pot with plenty of water and fertilizer in the full sun. I remove the offsets before repoting for the next year. Al

    Bookmark   January 22, 2009 at 8:34AM
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bluebonsai101(6a PA)

Hey Jodi, Contact me in the spring and I can send you some......I have maybe 5 pots that are around 30 inches in diameter full......some are the white form and some are the pretty "sulpher queen" yellow form, although I have no clue which are which since I do not mark them. I intend to repot to separate babies and give them fresh soil anyway so can box a few up for ya if you want them :o) Dan

    Bookmark   January 22, 2009 at 12:27PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

I have read that the frequent offsetting of these bulbs will prevent them from blooming. Sounds like Al has the answer.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2009 at 1:44PM
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cnid(z5b Ont Canada)

Interesting. I wonder if I have something other than what you described, Dan, because - to be honest - I do it let get very dry and it doesn't seem to resent it at all.

I will dig it up in the spring and repot. I think there is more than one in there now. I can put it in full sun too.

Thanks for help.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2009 at 9:23PM
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bluebonsai101(6a PA)

Hi C, Well, you can let them get dry....last year I had a friend forget to water mine for 2 weeks when it was totally dry and in the high 80s to low 90s here in PA.....they survived fine, but looked like poo when I returned home from lack of water.......they love it when I water once or even twice a day. Here is a pic of my Ismene festalis:\

And here is a pic of my 'Sulpher Queen':

And here is a pic of a rare H. speciosa:

Let me know if the top one is what you have so we know we are on the same page :o) Dan

    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 10:07AM
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Wow, Dan! Those are gorgeous! The last photo is spectacular! It's delicate and so tender looking... truly lovely!

I enjoy checking out all your photos... you do grow some very unique and interesting things!

I will definitely contact you in spring... thank you so much for both your help, and your generosity. Both are very appreciated!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 1:03PM
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Hi C. You and I must have got our ismene festalis from the same source because I can't get mine to bloom either! Have tried for four years to get it to bloom without success; interestingly though I also have Sulpher Queen and it has bloomed each year without fail so go figure! Dan, gorgeous pics!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 6:44PM
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bluebonsai101(6a PA)

glad you liked the pics!! Jodi, I am sure I can get you some in the spring, if you remind me....I will surely forget :o) Dan

    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 9:04PM
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There is a clone of Hymenocallis being distributed which almost never blooms; apparently it reproduces vegetatively to the degree that it sees no percentage in going to the trouble! I got mine as a free "bonus" with the purchase of some crinums from a vendor in Florida (he called them "Florida Mystery Bulbs"), but finally trashed them after several years, since I don't have space for botanical curiosities with no obvious redeeming characteristics. The most dependable of the Ismenes for me has been the hybrid, "Sulfur Queen", and in my area, deeper planting seems to discourage splitting and encourage plants to bulk up and bloom. When growing in pots, keeping the plants potbound encourages bloom as well.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 4:19AM
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bluebonsai101(6a PA)

I'd like to get H. carolinaea (think I got the spelling more of less correct) from a reputable source.....these MAY be hardy all the way to my house which would be fantastic :o) Dan

    Bookmark   January 27, 2009 at 6:53AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

One of my wife's favorites is the Sulfur Queen. Al

    Bookmark   January 27, 2009 at 9:27AM
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bluebonsai101(6a PA)

Yeah, my wife loves the white and yellow one as they both smell fantastic in addition to being pretty flowers!! I'd love a hardy one so I can plant it and forget it....and if I put it in the front yard maybe the deer will leave it alone as well which is an added bonus, although these seem to be deer-proof anyway :o) Dan

    Bookmark   January 27, 2009 at 12:46PM
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Don't worry, Dan... I won't forget! Hymenocallis is firmly written on my list of bulbs to obtain... I'd like to try it again! If they're scented, even better! That part, I didn't expect!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2009 at 7:40PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

As a member of the Amaryllidaceae family they are poisonous, and somehow the deer and the gophers know that. Al

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 9:19AM
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bluebonsai101(6a PA)

Very cool, that is why my various Amaryllids never get bothered whether they are from South Africa or South America. I knew some were very poisonous, like Boophane, but did not realize it was universal!! Thanks for the info :o) Dan

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 2:29PM
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cnid(z5b Ont Canada)

Amazing photos, Dan! I like the first one best, and I think the last one looks like an alien! Thanks for that, in the middle of a blizzard (probably about 6-8 inches of snow since this morning).

I am laughing hard right now because I can't look at a picture of a flower and tell you if it matches - because mine hasn't bloomed! If you showed me a lovely photo of the foliage, I could say what it is! (the packaging is long gone.)

Maybe mine needs to get pot bound... Now I really really hope it blooms because those photos are so gorgeous.


    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 9:21PM
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