Massonia wittebergensis / Drimia elata summer dormancy?

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Aiko
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Massonia wittebergensis / Drimia elata summer dormancy?

Post by Aiko » Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:15 pm

I sowed some Massonia wittebergensis in spring 2014. It is supposed to be the only summer active Massonia.

They germinated fine, and kept its tiny leaves all through summer, winter, and only started to shed its leaves in spring. Which is odd, as it assumingly should have lost its leaves in the autumn. Or just kept the leaves through summer to shed them next autumn, one of the two.

Same thing happened with Drimia elata, probably also one of the few (?) summer active species of this genus.

The leaves are gone, but the bulbs are still looking fine. No rot or anything. Just appearing to be dormant since about two months.

I am a little bit confused with how to treat the two. Keep it watering throughout summer. Keep it dry, to see if it will start to develop leaves in autumn like 'normal' Massonias, or keep it dry to see if it will start to develop leaves in spring?
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Re: Massonia wittebergensis / Drimia elata summer dormancy?

Post by CactusFanDan » Thu Jun 25, 2015 5:03 pm

I usually leave my Massonia dry when they're 'meant' to be dormant and wait for them to start moving. You could probably get away with watering them every 2 weeks or so, to encourage them to break dormancy. Massonia seem to be a bit odd. Some of my winter growing species have only just begun losing their leaves, although that's probably down to the cool weather lately.

I'd hazard a guess that young plants will cycle between dormancy and active growth more frequently than older plants though. I find that older plants have a longer active season than younger ones. No need to rush them anyway, they will get things done by their own schedule. :wink:
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Re: Massonia wittebergensis / Drimia elata summer dormancy?

Post by Terry S. » Sat Jun 27, 2015 10:55 am

It is not quite correct that M. wittebergensis is the only summer-growing species in the genus. M. saniensis from high in the Drakensberg is strictly summer-growing. Although the name is fairly recent, it has been in cultivation for many years, probably being introduced by Hilliard and Burtt when they did their floristic survey of the region. My experience of this rather miserable little plant is that it emerges from its pot around May each year, flowers in June and then dies away in late summer. So I essentially water it from about April to September. I have had no experience yet of M. wittebergensis but that also comes from the Drakensberg and might be expected to have a similar growth pattern.
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Re: Massonia wittebergensis / Drimia elata summer dormancy?

Post by graham » Sun Jun 28, 2015 9:31 pm

As the plants were due for some watering today I thought that I would have a look at the pot of M. wittebergensis here... Like yours there has been no growth this year and as my predominantly coir/perlite mix does not set - except where bound by roots - it was easy to have a quick poke around. The soil above the bulbs was loose and very quickly I found that the bulbs were just starting to show green shoots - well actually a few mm of leaf, but still a cm or so below soil surface.

And so I moved the pot from the 'dormant' to the 'growing' area and gave it a reasonable watering. We shall see....

I must admit that I do have a number of south African plants, amaryllids mostly but a few Massonia and Lachenalia etc. and I do notice that they tend to stay in leaf longer than I thought that they should. However I suspect that that may be because I do tend to follow their lead and water them if they are still growing, to maximise their growth, whereas in habitat their growth is more likely to be curtailed by the lack of rain which tends not to pay any attention to how the plants are growing at the time. But then the rain/dry seasons are not exactly fixed anyway.

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Re: Massonia wittebergensis / Drimia elata summer dormancy?

Post by BrianMc » Tue Jun 30, 2015 5:21 am

Aiko wrote:I sowed some Massonia wittebergensis in spring 2014. It is supposed to be the only summer active Massonia.

They germinated fine, and kept its tiny leaves all through summer, winter, and only started to shed its leaves in spring. Which is odd, as it assumingly should have lost its leaves in the autumn. Or just kept the leaves through summer to shed them next autumn, one of the two.
I sowed M.wittebergensis last year too and mine have just come into growth this last week after a good watering. Their tiny leaves have just started poking through the top dressing. Like you I was a little worried that nothing was happening when I watered them in spring . I began to think they had rotted , but when I knocked out one pot I found the little white bulbs so carefully covered them up again.

I think sometimes certain young bulbs can remain dormant for more than a year as they can go out of phase, or need to 'harden off'. I had this with some Ornithogalum seedlings grown from seed that Tom Jacobs sent me. They grew very well in their first year, but didn't reappear the next year. Now they are older they have gotten into a routine and grow every year.
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Re: Massonia wittebergensis / Drimia elata summer dormancy?

Post by graham » Sat Jul 04, 2015 10:03 pm

And today I noticed that three out of four were above ground - must have been a couple of days ago in fact. And so I thought I'd do a quick repot; I do find that while these sorts of bulbs may not appear to need very much surface area (although that's not the case with Massonias, with their horizontal leaves) they do seem to pull the bulbs down quite a way and so I put them in the next size up pot (11cm) so that the bulbs are now less than 50% deep in the pot.

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Re: Massonia wittebergensis / Drimia elata summer dormancy?

Post by graham » Sun Jul 05, 2015 1:47 pm

I've just been doing some tagging of various photographs (actually looking for some of the property which I'm trying to sell) and I see that these plants were in much the same stage in 2014 although perhaps a few days in advance of this year and one was in flower on the 2nd. - the first in flower and the only one so far so still wondering what will happen this year.

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Re: Massonia wittebergensis / Drimia elata summer dormancy?

Post by Aiko » Wed Jul 08, 2015 11:56 am

Thanks for giving me some more hope they will (eventually) be allright.

Another problem causer:

I have a Rhombophyllum dolabriforme which was doing really well last year. During winter it dried its leaves as many other mesembs do. But it was not waking up in the spring, and still looks as it is dead. Happened to four plants in the same pot. But the odd thing is, the trunks of all of them are still bendy. It just looks dead, but does not 'feel' dead as many other bushy plants will. Same thing with a pot of seedlings of 2011 sown Mestoklema tuberosum. Might this be one of those cases where the plants skip a growing season, being confused for some reason?
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Re: Massonia wittebergensis / Drimia elata summer dormancy?

Post by BrianMc » Wed Jul 08, 2015 2:00 pm

Aiko wrote: I have a Rhombophyllum dolabriforme which was doing really well last year. During winter it dried its leaves as many other mesembs do.
I'm not sure that my Rhombophyllum works like that. Yes, a summer active plant and old leaves eventually yellow, dry up and die, but much in the same way as faucaria etc, not as with distinctly, seasonally dormant plants. I also don't think they are missing one year just due to confusion. I suspect there is a problem with the roots, especially if all the plants are sharing a single pot. If the plants don't perk up with some regular misting, I think you should knock them out and check the roots.
Especially interested in Mesembs. small Aloes and South African miniatures.
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Re: Massonia wittebergensis / Drimia elata summer dormancy?

Post by Aiko » Sun Aug 23, 2015 9:02 pm

Had a look at my pot of Massonia wittebergensis, and now I could only find one little bulb. Still dormant. But at least it is still there. I don't know where the others are, but I guess rotted / dried away. Very unfortunate.

Anyway, I already ordered some more seeds of Massonia wittebergensis from African Bulbs a while back. Still a bit doubting wether to sow now or wait for early spring. Probably early spring would be the best. But any more advice on this?

(The Rhombophyllum dolabriforme are dead too, by the way. All dried up...)
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