Pancratium – exclusive and rare

Among indoor bulbous ones, it is difficult to find the same unpretentious long-liver as pancratium. The Nile lily, as this plant is also mistakenly called, captivates not with its flashiness, but with its graceful simplicity. The elegant symmetry of flowers with an unusual “crown”, the ability to bloom at the very beginning of winter, when delicate flowers are so lacking, and, of course, unpretentious care make the pancratium one of the best candidates for acquaintance with exotic bulbous flowers.

Pancratium sickenbergeri. Farmer Yael

Pancratium – graceful relatives of the hymenokallis

The name “Nile lily”, which is often assigned to the pancratium, is largely controversial. The thing is that this nickname is characteristic only of the plant, previously known as beautiful pancratium (chicory fair) and transferred to a completely different genus of bulbous cultures – the beautiful hymenokallis (Hymenocallis speciosa). This plant is so popular that the names of Hymenokallis and Pancratium are even considered synonymous. But in the genus of genuine Pancratiums there are many plants that are capable of surprising with their beauty no less.

Pancratium or pankration are representatives of the Amaryllis family (Amaryllidaceae). These are herbaceous bulbous perennials with large, regular, elliptical bulbs, usually covered with light orangey scales, giving them a resemblance to onions. The diameter of the pancratium bulb is up to 12 cm. During the year, it forms several daughter bulbs.

The leaves are rather narrow, long, collected in a basal “bunch” and are not so attractive to distinguish this plant outside the flowering period from any room collection, but they look fresh and bright. All attention in pancratium is attracted by flowering. Hollow, powerful and tall (up to 60 cm) peduncles are crowned with daffodil flowers with a graceful structure. Large tubular flowers are collected in umbrella inflorescences.

The tube-crown expands in the pharynx, the perianth is funnel-shaped, with narrow, spaced, symmetrically spaced lobes. Long filaments develop around the corolla, there is only one pistil, but snow-white, thin, graceful, up to 15 cm long. One of the undoubted advantages of pancratium is aroma. The smell of pancratium inflorescences reminds of sweet vanilla, very pleasant, does not interfere, but conquers with its persistence.

After flowering, pancratiums form pretty fruit pods, but pollination in a plant is a cross-cutting and rather “mysterious” process. It is not always possible to achieve a result when trying to artificially pollinate, and in nature, pancratiums are pollinated by only one single species of butterflies.

The number of pancratium flowers in favorable conditions increases every year. The beauty of a plant, modest at first glance, is revealed the better the older it gets.

The flowering period of pancratium is usually limited to autumn and early winter, although, like any other indoor bulbous plant, this plant can bloom at any time. By shifting the dormant period, you can control the time at which the pancratium will bloom. Each flower lasts about 5 days; the total flowering period is usually 3 weeks.

Pancratium illyricum
Pancratium illyricum

Types of pancratium

In nature, pancratiums are found in the subtropics and tropics from the Canary Islands to India. The retraining of the fairest pancratium greatly weakened the indoor representation of this plant. In fact, only one species remained widespread.

Pancratium Illyrian (chicory iLLYRICUM) Is a graceful plant that has become a kind of symbol of the flora of Malta and Corsica. The large bulb covered with light golden scales stands out from other amaryllis. The leaves of the Illyrian pancratium are powerful, most often erect, xiphoid-lanceolate, with a dark base tone and a bluish tint, which gives grace to the entire curtain. The inflorescences contain from 6 to 12 very beautiful snow-white flowers. It is believed that this species is capable of blooming twice – in late winter and late summer.

Four other very decorative types of pancrazia are less common, but also deserve close attention:

  1. Pancratium canary (Pancratium canariense) Is an elegant plant, the flowers of which are most reminiscent of daffodils. Narrow leaves are bent in arcs. Peduncles are thin, crowned with umbrellas with massive flowers. The large crown is surrounded by six upward-looking lingual perianth petals. Filaments only slightly exceed the length of the large teeth of the crown.
  2. Pancratium marine (chicory coast) – a spectacular bulbous, in nature ranked among endangered species. Large elongated bulbs up to 10 cm in height produce a bunch of belt-like leaves up to 60 cm in length with a bluish color. The peduncle is very powerful, wide, crowned with a medium-sized umbrella of inflorescences, consisting of only 2 – 6 flowers. Funnel-shaped “crowns” are combined with 6-lanceolate perianth petals. This pankratium traditionally blooms in nature in August-September. He usually discards the leaves completely.
  3. Pancratium small (chicory small) Is a compact species, more reminiscent of snowdrops and crocuses. Small grass-like leaves in a bunch are combined with graceful peduncles, crowned with one or a pair of flowers with a small graceful crown, “lying” on a snow-white perianth with thin lanceolate petals. Filamentous filaments give the plant an elegance.
  4. Pancratius of Ceylon (Pancratium zeylanicum) Is a very spectacular species with surprisingly elegant flowers that conquer with their regal symmetry. Above the basal bundle of linear leaves, several thin peduncles rise, at the top of which there are single, up to 7 cm in diameter, flowers looking up. The central cup-shaped funnel with a serrated edge is combined with narrow, lanceolate, curled downward “curls” of the perianth petals and upward-looking valley filaments. Thus, it is as if three different flowers are collected in one flower. The aroma of this pancratium is very sweet, with spicy, not vanilla notes.

Ceylon pancratium (Pancratium zeylanicum)
Pancratium zeylanicum. Farmer Bim Finch
Pancratium maritimum
Pancratium maritimum. Farmer Calimo
Pancratium canariense
Pancratium canariense. Farmer James Steakley

Caring for pancratium at home

Pancratiums are not difficult to grow bulbs that can be recommended to beginners. Unlike competitors, pankratiums are able to delight with their inflorescences for decades. The beauty of flowering has endowed this exotic star with the title of an exclusive, rare plant. But this status and reputation has nothing to do with the complexities of caring for pancratium.

Lighting for pancratium

Without exception, all pancratium are light-loving plants. Even the slightest shading will cause not only a stop, but more often the absence of flowering. They need bright lighting both during spring and summer, and on the eve of flowering (as one of the prerequisites for the release of a flower arrow). Even if a plant that has dropped leaves (for example, sea pancratium) spends the dormant period in shade, a few weeks before flowering it must still be returned to the windowsills.

For pancratium, direct sunlight is undesirable, usually the plant is exposed on the eastern or western windowsills. But if you provide a diffusing screen and frequent ventilation, then the plant will bloom much more abundantly on the southern windowsills.

Comfortable temperature

It is very easy to find comfortable temperatures for the pancratium. During the rest period, it is desirable to lower the temperature, but the indicators should not fall below 13 degrees. But during the period of active development of the pancratium, any values ​​of indicators within the range from 18 to 25 degrees are suitable. The plant does not like heat, but it is easy to compensate for it by increasing the humidity of the air.

This bulbous in summer, for a dormant period, can be taken out into the open air, not only on a balcony or terrace, but also in a garden.

Pancratiums hate drafts and fluctuations in growing conditions. For these plants, it is desirable to provide frequent ventilation and access to fresh air, but it is better to protect the plant from the movement of air currents by exposing it in the most comfortable places of the room. When placed outdoors, pankratiums are selected the most windless areas.

Pancratium watering and air humidity

Pancratium is one of the most moisture-loving bulbous, watering for them is carried out quite intensively. During the period of active development, it is necessary to ensure that the substrate in the pots does not dry out even in the middle part, allowing only the upper centimeters to dry out. The water is drained from the pallets immediately, without leaving it even for 5 minutes. From mid-autumn, the plant is transferred to more meager watering, maintaining a stable, but much lighter soil moisture, allowing the substrate to dry out almost completely between these procedures.

Waterlogging during a rest period increases the risk of rot and red burns. For the dormant period, pancratium, if you do not allow the soil to completely dry out and darken, the greens will almost not lose.

Pancratium marine, which needs a full rest period, is not watered for 2-3 months. If desired, you can also “dry” and other pancratium, if the preservation of foliage does not play a role, but it is better not to go to such extremes. The reverse restoration of watering is carried out slowly, lightly watering the plant until the development of the peduncle and restoring abundant watering until it reaches half its height.

Pancratium needs measures to increase air humidity only in one case – if the temperature rises above 25 degrees. In this case, it is advisable to often wipe the leaves with a damp sponge or spray.

A charming procedure for all pancratium is wiping the leaves from dust. Thin, graceful leaves of pancratium several times a week are best wiped off with a damp sponge or soft cloth.

Top dressing for pancratium

Fertilizers for this modest plant are applied, as for all bulbous plants, only during the period of active growth. For pancratium, a standard feeding scheme with a frequency of 1 procedure every 2 weeks or weekly feeding with a half-reduced concentration of fertilizers is more suitable. For a plant, it is better to use universal, complex (containing minerals, organics, and trace elements) fertilizers for flowering plants.

Pruning pancratium

This bulbous is distinguished by its ability to relentlessly release new leaves with the same constant withering of old ones. Therefore, the pancratium needs constant “cleaning”: all dried parts of the plant must be regularly removed, not only avoiding a sloppy appearance, but also without risking the health of the plant. The peduncle is removed “at the root” after flowering.

Pancratium maritimum
Pancratium maritimum

Pancratium transplant and substrate

For pankratiums, it is better to choose universal loose substrates. If you prefer non-purchased soils, then mix in equal parts sand, humus, turf and leafy soil. Pancratium marine prefers a light sandy substrate. For pancratiums, it is advisable to add bone meal and charcoal to the soil mixture.

Transplant this culture immediately after flowering. But you should not rush to transplant: due to very fragile roots, pankratium tolerates any transplant rather painfully. The plant is transplanted only when it is no longer possible to postpone this procedure longer: when roots appear in the drainage hole. Usually, the need for a transplant occurs once every 1-2 years. In the year of transplantation, pancratium may bloom poorly or not bloom at all.

When changing capacity, you should try to avoid the slightest contact with the roots. Pancratiums are rolled over, removing only free soil on the sides of the root ball and always removing the contaminated topsoil. A powerful drainage layer must be laid at the bottom of the new pot. When setting up the plant, care should be taken that only 1/2 or at least 2/3 of the entire bulb is immersed in the soil.

Containers for pancratium are increased by 2-3 cm. For this bulbous, containers are preferred, the height of which is less than the diameter.

Diseases and pests of pancratium

This bulbous practically does not suffer from pests, but is very afraid of fungal infections of the soil. Any cold snap in combination with waterlogging leads to the spread of rot and other diseases. At the slightest sign of leaf blackening, the appearance of brown spots or other problems associated with dampness, you must immediately treat the soil with systemic fungicides.

Reproduction of pancratium

The rare and effective bulbous bulb is propagated by simply separating the daughter bulbs. Sitting of pancratium babies can be carried out during transplantation after flowering. It is best to separate the daughter bulb with a sharp knife, drying and processing the slices. For successful rooting, bulbs need to be provided with stable temperatures and bright lighting, very light but frequent watering. Rooting of pancratium usually takes about a month. Daughter bulbs bloom in the second or third year.

Less commonly, pancratiums are propagated by seeds: the plant requires cross-pollination, often does not lend itself to artificial pollination, and seeds are considered very rare. Sow them in a loose mixture of peat and sand in equal parts, deep enough, up to 2 cm. Germinate the seeds under a film or glass, in bright light, with daily ventilation. Seedlings appear only a month after sowing. The dive is carried out at the age of 3 weeks. Pancratiums are grown with gentle moistening, increasing the capacity only as needed.


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Anna Evans

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