Moody and colorful sparaxis
Among bulbous plants you can find many colorful wonders. But no plant can compete in a variety of variegated colors and patterns with luxurious sparaxis. A perennial that does not tolerate frost and in regions with harsh winters can only be grown with a dig from the soil for the winter, even in a short summer it manages to demonstrate its originality. Luxurious flowers with outlandish patterns and spots, though not the largest, but some of the most spectacular. It is not easy to grow sparaxis, but the vagaries of onion exotics fully compensate for its spectacular appearance.
Impressive beauty of sparaxis inflorescences
Sparaxis are far from the largest representatives of bulbous plants. In height, the flower stalks of this exotica reach only 60 cm, while the bulb does not produce so many leaves and does not create beautiful rosettes. In order to make a beautiful “spot” or group from sparaxis, the bulbs must be placed very tightly, planted almost next to each other.
Sparaxis is a genus of the Iris family (Iridaceae), which includes 15 species of perennial herbaceous tuberous plants.
Sparaxis (Sparaxis) cannot boast of a wide variety of species. This plant with several forms of growth, which today are divided into 4-5 wild natural species. In landscape design, only two of them are used - sparaxis tricolor (Sparaxis tricolor) and dwarf sparaxis graceful (Sparaxis elegans) Smooth, lanceolate leaves without the edge only visually emphasize a fairly powerful peduncle. But any imperfections of greenery, including small numbers, more than compensates for the beauty of flowering. It is not just decorative in sparaxis, but motley and extravagant. Flowering begins in regions with mild winters in late spring and early summer, but in the middle lane and north it is much closer to autumn, in colorful August or September. The flowers are star-shaped, up to 5 cm in diameter. A dark ring separates the bright yellow center with stamens from the main color of the petals, which creates an almost graphic effect. In different sparaxis, the monochromatic orange, yellow, pink, white, cream colors are replaced by various variegated combinations, which seem to be hand-written patterns on the petals. In dwarf sparaxis, the colors are more limited: the flowers are either white or orange.
In the design of the garden, sparaxis use:
- to create colorful spots on the lawn and clearings of groundcover;
- as luxurious accents in the foreground of flower beds and mixborders;
- large groups and monocots;
- in flowerbeds from bulbous and bulbous crops requiring digging;
- for decorating rockeries, front gardens;
- as a cut crop;
- for decorating rooms, greenhouses, conservatories.
Sparaxis cultivation in regions with mild winters
Heat-loving and low winter resistant, this bulbous develops naturally in a warm climate, with two stages of dormancy. In a mild climate, sparaxis bloom in the spring, in May-June, in the summer they switch to a dormant period, during which the bulbs must be dug up. And in the fall they again land in the soil, like most spring-flowering bulbous. Planting sparaxis, newly acquired or dug after the death of the leaves, is carried out in October. Bulbs are placed at a distance of about 10-15 cm between plants, deepening 10 cm from the soil line. In anticipation of winter, sparaxis plantings are covered with mulch, dry foliage or spruce branches, and in the spring such a mini-shelter is removed immediately after warming the ground and the onset of warm weather. As soon as the sparaxis fades, all the aboveground parts of the plant will die off, the bulbs will again need to be dug up, dried and put into storage together with tulips.
Midland Sparaxis Growth Strategy
In severe winters, in the middle lane and to the north, sparaxis can be grown only as an annual or as a bulbous plant with an excavation for the winter. In many ways, the agricultural technology of this culture is similar to gladioli, because sparaxis will also have to be removed from the soil and stored indoors before the onset of frost. But there is a significant difference: the bulbs of sparaxis are much more capricious precisely at the stage of winter storage, they are often damaged by rot, wither, die. The explanation is simple: a plant in nature should be in the soil in winter, and due to a shift in the excavation time and completely different temperature conditions during the period of storage outside the soil, the bulbs suffer much more than the gladioli accustomed to such treatment.
This plant is more suitable for greenhouse cultivation than for open ground: it is much easier to satisfy all the vagaries of sparaxis and provide it with stable growth conditions. But even in the open ground, if you can pay attention to the plant and take care of its needs, you can achieve success.
Growing sparaxis in pot culture with wintering indoors
If a strategy with a shift in flowering dates and digging for the winter does not suit you, then you can try to grow sparaxis as a container plant. By planting bulbs in September in large containers and pots in compost to a depth of 2-3 cm, the bulbs can be left in the greenhouse or greenhouse until the first frost, and then transferred either to living quarters or to a heated greenhouse and greenhouse. In the spring, when the development of sparaxis begins as well as in regions with a warm climate, you will admire the flowering of a bright bulb. And after flowering, when the foliage dies by the middle of summer, sparaxis will need to be removed from the soil and stored until planting in the fall. Such a strategy requires very scrupulous care, but if you grow sparaxis for cutting or you have a winter garden, it is a great alternative to open soil.
Conditions comfortable for sparaxis
In order for sparaxis not only to bloom, but also to form large, full-fledged flowers, it needs to be provided with a comfortable and “calm” location. This plant needs high-quality protection from wind and draft, the choice of warm and secluded areas. But at the same time, even the slightest shading is unacceptable: sparaxis are extremely photophilous and grow only in sunny places in the middle band.
Soil characteristics are also very important. Sparaxis cannot be planted in any cultivated soil. This onion needs to provide nutritious loam with good drainage and a rich, loose texture. Even on the most permeable soils for sparaxis, they still lay drainage: this plant is extremely sensitive to water stagnation, especially in the summer.
Features planting and digging sparaxis
In the middle lane and to the north, sparaxis can be planted in the soil only after the threat of return frosts disappears, the soil warms up, and the weather is stable and warm. Traditionally, bulbs are planted in May, but they are not planted as deeply as in the southern regions during the winter.
Sparaxis bulbs are set tightly to each other, with an interval of 5-10 cm and no deeper than 5 cm in relation to the soil line. The plant will bloom only after 2-3 months - in August with May planting and September with June. Flowering will be much shorter than in the southern regions. After flowering, the aboveground parts of the sparaxis gradually die off, but you need to focus on the excavation not by the death of the leaves, but by the weather: you need to remove the bulbs before the first frosts come. After digging the corms, you need to carefully sort, inspect and dry. Drying is carried out at a temperature not lower than 25 degrees - in a warm and actively ventilated room.
Caring for Sparaxis
Grow sparaxis without careful care will not work. This onion cannot be "planted and forgotten": he needs care that compensates for the vagaries of the weather and allows you to bloom in a time that is not typical for a plant.
Watering should be sensitive to weather conditions. At the slightest drought or extreme heat, the loss of moisture must be compensated by maintaining light soil moisture. But do not water sparaxis too abundantly and actively: waterlogging of the soil should not be allowed as well as prolonged drought.
The need for fertilizing depends on the quality of the soil. On fertile ground, sparaxis do not feed at all, but on average garden or depleted top dressing - the key to the development of both flower stalk and bulb. If you have not improved the soil to the optimum parameters, then from the moment of planting the bulbs, add a portion of complete mineral fertilizers with water for irrigation each month. The last top dressing can be carried out at the stage of active flowering, and then it is necessary to let the bulbs ripen before digging.
Wintering of sparaxis
The dried corms of sparaxis are not usually stored. They are much more sensitive than the rest of the bulbs, and to preserve for a long winter and early spring, they need to provide not only coolness. Bulbs of sparaxis are stored in dry sawdust and only in complete darkness. The optimum air temperature is from 5 to 7 degrees Celsius. For bulbs, rotting and drying out are equally dangerous, therefore, humidity should be given increased attention, avoiding extreme indicators.
Pests and diseases
The moodiness of sparaxis is slightly offset by the resistance of the plant. In greenhouses and in mild climates, these bulbs can suffer from aphids; in regions with harsh winters, only various types of rot caused by waterlogging are dangerous for them.
This bulbous plant is propagated not only by corms, but also by seeds. True, the latter option is possible only in a warm climate or when grown in greenhouses, because you need to keep young seedlings without digging for 2 years before flowering (and only after that you can switch the plant to normal cultivation mode). Seeds are sown in boxes or on seedling ridges in August, in a loose nutrient substrate and germinated in heat. Immediately after emergence, they must be thinned out. And after the young shoots get stronger, it is better to carefully transfer the plants to the open soil or soil of the greenhouse.