Luxurious Sandersonia, or Golden Lily of the Valley

Long gone are the days when lantern flowers were considered the property of physalis exclusively. With unusual boxes-fruits of this ornamental and vegetable plant, one of the most valuable tuberous exotic plants – magnificent sandersonia – easily strives for the championship. The flowers of this amazing plant really look like porcelain lanterns, as if they are about to fall from the bushes and soar over the garden. The bizarre appearance of Sandersonia, a unique tuberous vine, only emphasizes the unusually growing foliage. But the status of a rare exotic is not accidental: this beauty is by no means easy to grow. And to succeed in regions with harsh winters, it will take a lot of work.

Orange Sandersonia, or Golden Lily of the Valley. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com 俊 隆 陳
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Exotic from the luxury section

Sandersonia cannot be called an ordinary plant. This is a rare, rather “risky” beauty, the cultivation of which can bring a lot of joys and sorrows. After all, Sandersony has so many requirements that it is difficult to satisfy them in a non-southern climate. But if you show diligence and perseverance, then your collection will be adorned with an unprecedented beauty of corms, which cannot be found equal.

There is only one plant in the genus Sanderson – Sandersonia orange, or orange-colored (sandersonia aurantiaca). In the wild, this South African beauty liana practically does not occur: it is ranked among the rare and overvalued species. But in the culture of Sandersonia has a very special place.

Sandersonia orange is sometimes also called the golden lily of the valley, golden bell, or Chinese lantern.

The singularity of Sandersonia is evident even in its root tubers. This plant develops from fork-shaped tubers bearing not one, but two buds. In this case, the flowering stem and leaves grow from each bud, and after the end of the cycle, two new daughter tubers are formed from them and the plant is practically completely renewed. In addition to the new substitute daughter tuber, children are also formed at the base of the shoots, but their development negatively affects the formation of the second tuber and all flowering, when cultivating sandersonia on an industrial scale, such children are struggling with the termination of flowering and emergency digging. But for gardeners who just want to enjoy the beauty of Sandersonia, such nuances need not be bothered. But what should not be forgotten is that the Sandersonia tubers are not only unusual, but also super-fragile. Buds, daughter tubers and main roots break off so easily that even careless digging can be fatal.

Tubers, which are “tied” like shriveled small spheres, within three months are transformed beyond recognition, stretched and smoothed, acquire a typical shape. The stem is high (up to 60 cm), powerful, but since the plant is a liana, it lays down, and sometimes curls, flexible and plastic. The antennae located at the ends of the leaves easily cling to the supports, without which this plant cannot be grown. On the shoots, lanceolate leaves are surprisingly symmetrical with a bright, rich color, ideally combined with orange bells.

Sandersony’s growth is very specific. The plant goes through a full cycle in 4-5 months, after which it enters the stage of absolute dormancy. Where there is no frost in winter, sandersonia simply remains in the soil for long 7-8 months without the slightest signs of growth. In regions with not only severe, but also mild winters, the plant is certainly dug out before winter.

Sandersonia is one of the most beautifully flowering corms. To call the blossoming Sandersonia simply decorative would be a crime: its unusual shapes and gracefulness make it a very special plant, unlike any other garden culture. If sandersonia grows in comfortable conditions, then its flowering will delight not only with beauty, but also with extreme abundance. But the main thing in Sandersonia is not at all the number of flowers, or even their size. Neat bells became famous not only up to 2 cm in diameter with a slightly longer length, but in the shape of an ideal flashlight. They were as if they were sculpted by hand, the density of the petals makes the flowers almost porcelain. And the bright orange color, which cannot be called otherwise than fiery golden, only enhances the illusion.

Orange Sandersonia (Sandersonia aurantiac)
Orange Sandersonia (Sandersonia aurantiac). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com zinniabuzz

The use of sandersonia in ornamental gardening:

  • as a luxurious, crowning accent;
  • in the role of decorating flower beds, front gardens, recreation areas;
  • for decorating objects of small architecture, including as an attention-grabbing accent;
  • to accentuate the design and introduce original touches;
  • as a pot plant;
  • as a cut culture.

Different strategies for growing one plant

The classic way to grow Sandersonia in the middle lane is to cultivate Sandersonia as a perennial with digging for the winter. But agricultural technology is not quite similar to gladioli or dahlias, other bulbous and corms: it is better to plant sandersonia in pots before being put out in the soil.

For those who want to simplify the task and prefer to admire the sandersony in containers and in the summer without planting the plant in the ground, another strategy is suitable. After all, this beauty will bloom in pots with equal success. In fact, with this option, Sandersonia is grown as an indoor or greenhouse crop, which is brought out into the fresh air only in summer. For the winter, the rhizomes are not dug up, but simply cut off the aerial parts and carry the containers into a cold and dark room. With scarce watering, Sandersonia goes through a stage of complete rest, and wakes up in February. It is moved to living rooms, grown until summer, after which it is taken out onto balconies, terraces or into the garden.

Optimal conditions for sandersony can be created in greenhouses and conservatories, where it is easier to control both temperatures and lighting. Particularly good are non-freezing, but cool greenhouses, in which the beauty can winter in the soil without digging.

Sandersonia orange
Sandersonia orange. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Karl Gercens

Conditions Needed by Sandersony

To succeed in growing Sandersonia, especially in regions with harsh winters, in the middle lane, the landing site must be selected more than carefully. This exotic plant can only be placed on a sunny site, but no less attention should be paid to protection from wind and drafts. If the location combines warmth and bright lighting, then Sandersonia will practically not notice some of the shortcomings in temperature indicators.

Also pay special attention to the soil. For sandersony, the soil should be loose, with good drainage or water and air permeability. But other parameters are also important: fertility, a neutral or at least slightly acidic reaction (permissible pH is from 5,0 to 6,0) and a loose, light texture.

Growing this plant is not easy due to its increased dependence on heat and light. This beauty needs stable conditions, long daylight hours and relative stability. Sandersonia is also sensitive to temperature extremes. In regions with short summers, it may not bloom at all, especially if the weather is atypical. And you need to be prepared for such disappointments: every year the landing of Sandersony is like a lottery. But on the other hand, the “win” more than compensates for the risk of failure. And really serious problems during cultivation rarely arise, and they are rather exceptions to the general rule. If sandersonia has successfully bloomed for several years, there are fewer worries at all: every year it adapts better to the conditions on your site, it hardens and becomes less sensitive.

Be careful: sandersonia is a poisonous plant, and working with tubers, when pruning and planting, you need only in protection in the form of gloves and all possible precautions.

Tubers of Sanderson
Tubers of Sanderson. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Uluwehi Knecht

Landing Sandersonia

Planting this plant in regions with severe winters is a very specific task. Sandersonia must first be planted in pots or containers. And you need to do this early enough, at the end of winter. And you need to stimulate the “spilling” of the kidneys on your own: the sandersonies should first be treated with a solution of fungicides, and then soaked in warm water and kept at a temperature of 25 degrees Celsius until the buds germinate. And only after that, disembark in the container. Planting in pots with nutritious loose soil for sandersonia should be done at the end of February. Plants are watered moderately but not fed and kept warm and light. Growing plants in this way until stable warm weather is established, you will get strong and sufficiently resistant specimens capable of flowering.

In May, when the threat of late frosts has passed, the Sandersons are transferred to open soil. If the weather is too unstable, the nights are very cold, then it is better to postpone the transplant and just take the plants out for the day in the garden to harden. Even the slightest frost of Sanderson will not withstand. Before transplanting, the soil must be improved by adding organic fertilizers to it. The characteristics of the soil can also be improved with peat, sawdust, bark, if the soil is not too loose. Sometimes, before planting the plant, the soil is sterilized (using methyl bromide or chloropicrin).

Sandersonia can be planted directly in open soil at the end of May. But this method is considered more risky, because the development will be completed much later. And therefore, the plant will have to be dug out immediately after the dying off of the shoots, at the very beginning of the dormant stage, which is much more traumatic.

Sandersonia is planted at a distance of 30 cm to neighboring plants. If you have a “crop” of small tubers that need to be planted to build up mass, then they are placed closer. Pay particular attention to planting depth. Ordinary sandersons, which have not passed the division, are planted to a depth of 5 cm. The divided sandersons are set to such a depth that the cut remains above the soil line.

Humidity and watering requirements

Sandersonia needs systemic care. This plant will have to be watered, in fact, treating it in the same way as the tub exotic in your garden. But this does not mean at all that you need to water the Sandersony every day. The procedures should be moderate, they are carried out only when the soil dries up, and there is not enough natural precipitation. Do not allow the soil to dry out for a long time – and you will certainly achieve success. But waterlogging is categorically unacceptable.

Trimming and tying sandersonia

Sandersonia is an unusual plant. This is a liana, its stems curl slightly, tendrils are located at the ends of the leaves, and for it a support must be installed for it, along which the stem can climb.

Sandersonia orange
Orange Sandersonia. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Noriko Ohba

Top dressing for sandersonia

This plant will not refuse to feed, but not classical, but combined. For sandersonia, the main fertilizers are applied before planting, the optimal soil characteristics and the supply of nutrients for flowering. For improvement, only organic matter is used. But after planting, top dressing is carried out exclusively on insufficiently nutritious soils. If necessary, every month the plant is watered with mineral fertilizers mixed with water for irrigation. Such additional dressing can only be made before and during flowering.

Digging and wintering sandersonium

Sandersonia must be removed from the soil before the arrival of the first autumn frosts. First, cut off all aboveground parts completely. Carefully, with a large supply of soil, remove the root tubers from the soil. Shake off the soil by hand. Soak root tubers in a solution of a fungicide or a special anti-infective agent for 10 minutes. After that, treat the hemp of the shoots with crushed charcoal or a special agent for treating wounds and preventing fungal infections, dry the tubers for several days in a dark and warm place in the fresh air.

Place the root tubers ready for wintering in boxes or pots with peat or loose soil. Place the Sanderson containers in an area with a temperature of 3 to 5 degrees Celsius and store them during the winter in complete darkness. You can keep the sandersonia in the refrigerator: in peat or soil, it will overwinter and in bags with holes or paper bags. But with this storage option, make sure the temperature is in line with the plant’s needs. It is best to place the tubers on the warmest, lowest shelf.

The minimum duration of cold wintering is 12 weeks. For a plant to bloom, keeping it at suitable temperatures for at least 3 months is a critical factor.

Sandersonia pest and disease control

Sandersonia is by no means the most resistant garden plant. This beauty, both in pots and in the ground, is threatened by slugs, caterpillars, spider mites, and rot with fusarium. The main condition is prevention, soaking tubers after digging and before planting and thorough examinations. But the main thing is to prevent excess moisture, tuber sticking, careful and attentive care.

Sandersonia orange
Orange Sandersonia. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com maynard

Breeding Sandersonia

Excellent sandersonia can be propagated in only one way – by dividing the tubers. For this, adult, mature, large root tubers are suitable. Despite the fact that Sandersonia has two full-fledged growth points, the daughter tuber from the second bud is smaller than from the first. In order for both plants to bloom equally, they are recommended to be separated annually. In this case, the separation procedure is carried out before planting the plant, after cold storage.

After separating the tubers, it is very important to process the cuts immediately. And pay attention to the tools: they must be clean, sharp. It is better to treat wounds with charcoal (as for all tuberous and bulbous plants). After the tubers are dry, they are soaked in a fungicide solution for prophylaxis.

Divided sandersonies are soaked before planting in the same way as regular unseparated ones. They are soaked in warm water and kept warm until germination (it takes about 1 week when the sprout bud swells and the tubers become more brittle). Plants are treated with a fungicidal solution and planted to a depth of 5-10 cm so that the cut remains above the soil surface.

If you managed to get or collect Sandersonia seeds, then you can get a new generation of plants in this way. Seeds are sown only in early spring, keeping them dry and dark after harvest, but in cold conditions. They actually need the same frost-free but cold stratification as tubers. For sandersony, you need to choose the lightest substrates, bright lighting and light moisture. But since the seeds germinate even under strictly controlled conditions for a very long time, the seedlings need to be grown for two years as houseplants, and they can be dived into separate containers only after reaching ten centimeters in height, this method is used very rarely.

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Anna Evans

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