Zephyrantes - delicate “upstarts”
Deserving the nickname “upstart” for its speed of development of the peduncle, the charming small-bulbous marshmallow is one of the most tender seasonal indoor plants. Zephyranthes conquers with the purity of colors and shapes, abundant flowering and unpretentiousness. This is not the easiest bulbous cultivation, but certainly one of the most tender and grateful. White, pink, yellow, two-tone - for everyone among the marshmallows there is a favorite.
Exquisitely delicate and elegant marshmallows.
Representatives of the genus Zephyranthes, grown as cultivated plants, do not accidentally get their name from marshmallows - the west wind (in Greek, the name of the plant sounds like "flower of the west wind"). Zephyranthes is a delicate, surprisingly delicate, and at the same time perceived in the interior as a breath of fresh air, a flower. The plant looks like a radiant bouquet, fully justifying such a comparison.
The upstart visually places surprisingly fresh, clean, as if giving rest to the soul and eyes accents. The purity and simplicity of the Zephyranthes really knows no equal. Even against the background of other indoor bulbs - both rare and more popular - it still seems special. Folk nicknames of the plant fully reflect its beauty - fairy lily, rain lily, rain flower, marshmallow lily, marshmallow flower and just “marshmallow”.
This representative of the Amaryllis family has rather small bulbs, and the plant itself is not impressive in size. Zephyranthes leaves are glossy, fleshy and flat, belt-shaped or linear, from 25 to 40 cm long.
Zephyranthes - plants, surprising the speed of development of peduncles. Actually, for the almost "instant" growth of flowering shoots, they received the popular nickname "upstart". From the moment it appears above the surface of the soil to flowering, only 2-3 days pass. Unlike many bulbous competitors, not inflorescences, but single flowers bloom on the stalks of zephyranthes. Funnel-shaped, resembling a lily or crocus, star-shaped, they reach 2-8 cm in diameter. Unfortunately, the blooming of each flower occurs as quickly as the appearance - they last only about 2 days.
The flowering period of zephyranthes differs in different plants: it can bloom both in winter, and in spring, and in summer.
The color scheme of zephyrantes includes pink, white, yellow colors in the purest versions.
Types of Zephyrantes
In the genus of Zephyranthes, about 40 species of plants. Of these, less than one dozen are used as decorative crops. In nature, this unique onion can be found in the Caribbean, in South and Central America. Their origin significantly affects the characteristics of the cultivation of these plants.
Zephyranthes are most often identified by color, highlighting yellow-flowered, snow-white and pink-flowered species, as well as plants with a two-color watercolor color. Despite the fact that the species name of zephyranthes is often not paid attention at all, each variety of onion has its own characteristics and significant differences in the structure of flowers.
The most common as a houseplant is rightly considered to be Guatemalan endemic - marshmallows tiny (Zephyranthes minutaformerly known as Zephyranthes grandiflora — Zephyranthes grandiflora) This is a small-bulbous perennial (bulb diameter up to 3 cm, with a shortened neck) with narrow grooved leaves up to 30 cm long and 0.8 cm wide, which stand out in a beautiful dark color. Single funnel-shaped flowers up to 8 cm in diameter bloom on a peduncle up to 30 cm in height, captivating with the purity of a pink “candy” tone and bright orange stamens. Large-flowered Zephyranthes blooms from April to July.
Zephyranthes Lindley (Zephyranthes lindleyana) Is another pink-blooming species with flowers up to 7 cm in diameter. It blooms late, from July to August. Bulbs up to 4 cm in diameter produce larger leaves up to 1.5 cm wide. The flowers are bright pink, gradually fading to a paler tone, with a light pharynx and bright stamens, lily-shaped, with tongue-like petals.
Under the name "white zephyranthes" is often grown Zephyranthes Atamasco or Zephyranthes Atamas (Zephyranthes atamasco) This is a stunted bulbous perennial with dark green narrow leaves and elegant peduncles up to 25 cm long, crowned with white lily-shaped flowers up to 8 cm in diameter. The bulbs are small, ovate, up to 2 cm in diameter, with a shortened neck. Each bulb produces up to 6 leaves. Flowering of this species lasts from April to autumn.
But much more common is not such a compact, but no less beautiful species native to Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil - marshmallows white (Zephyranthes candida) A distinctive feature of this zephyranthes is very narrow leaves less than 0.5 cm wide. Flatly awl-shaped and very fleshy, they grow up to 40 cm in length. The bulb of this species is oval, with a diameter of up to 3 cm, with a long neck, almost 5 cm. Peduncles are very thin, appear from July to September. The funnel-shaped and crocus-shaped flowers in diameter reach 6-8 cm, often the outer lobes slightly redden. These zephyranthes create stunningly beautiful friable sods, in which leaves deviate in different directions.
But the only popular species, flaunting yellow flowers - Zephyranthes Golden (Zephyranthes aurea) today retrained in the form of Long-leaved Gabrantus (Habranthus longifolius) of the genus Gabrantus. This plant with dark narrow leaves and golden yellow crocus flowers up to 8 cm in diameter. The bulb is round, up to 3 cm in diameter. The leaves are linear, up to 30 cm in length. The flowering of this zephyranthes usually takes all winter.
Two-color zephyranthes is very popular - Zephyranthes multicolored (Zephyranthes versicolor) Oblong, dark-flaked bulbs up to 3 cm in diameter produce thirty centimeter linear leaves and single flowers on erect peduncles. The white base color is combined with a dark spot at the base of the petals and the finest veins, creating the impression that the cherry center diverges in watercolor on the flower. Outside color is reddish green. This is a January Zephyranthes blooming in the middle of winter.
Despite the fact that zephyranthes most of the year look completely inconspicuous, the beauty of their flowering completely compensates for the inconspicuous foliage, and not such a long period of flowering. In fact, all that is needed for upstarts is good lighting and a period of rest in dryness and cold, careful care and attention.
Like all other bulbs, marshmallows do not have to be grown with classic flowering periods and a dormant phase. The period of "wintering" of the plant can be shifted at its discretion. During dormancy, three factors are important for zephyranthes:
- cool temperatures;
- bright lighting when preserving leaves and a dark place in their absence;
- almost dry substrate.
The optimal duration of the resting phase is 2-3 months, but if you wish, you can stretch it even longer. Even if the Zephyranthes are aged for several months under comfortable conditions, the plants may not bloom when transferred to normal conditions. For this bulb, it is very important to wait for an independent start of growth, and only then change the conditions of detention to normal.
The transition to a dormant period should also be natural: the plant itself should start dropping leaves, and after yellowing part of the foliage, watering is stopped and only then the plant is transferred to new conditions. Leaves to upstarts are removed only after independent drying, if the plant retains them (at least partially), then the substrate is not completely dried and watering is minimal, but supporting greens.
Lighting for Zephyrantes
These small-bulbous ones belong to photophilous cultures and do not tolerate even the slightest shading. Zephyranthes grow best in diffused bright light. When installing scattering screens, they can settle even on the southern windowsill and sunny balcony.
For the dormant period, if the zephyranthes retains at least part of the leaves, the lighting should also be as bright as possible. With complete drying of the leaves, plants can be placed even in the dark.
The best option for growing zephyranthes are eastern and western window sills.
During the period of active development, any room temperature will suit zephyranthes. The optimal range is from 18 to 25 degrees. Bulb does not like strong heat, flowering at high temperatures is reduced and quickly ends. In summer, upstarts can be taken out into the fresh air, placed in sunny places, but be sure to protect them from precipitation and winds.
During the dormant period, regardless of whether it falls in the fall, winter, or if you shift it for other periods, the plant needs to be provided with a cool place. Zephyranthes are best prepared for flowering in the temperature range from 8 to 12 degrees, but if the soil is dry, then zephyranthes can tolerate a decrease in temperature to zero. The maximum value of temperatures in the rest period is 15 degrees.
In summer, zephyranthes can not only be taken out into the fresh air, exposed in the garden, but even transplanted into open soil (digging must be done before the first frosts). When planted in summer in the soil, plants form larger bulbs, and therefore bloom more luxuriantly next year.
Watering and humidity
Zephyranthes even at the peak of flowering needs moderate watering. This bulb is watered carefully, allowing the soil to dry between waterings in the upper layer. Zephyrantes are unpretentious to humidity, forgive mistakes, but it is better to avoid complete drying of the soil or dampness.
For dormancy or at low temperatures, marshmallows require minimal watering, just supporting life in the plant. Their frequency directly depends on whether zephyranthes leaves retains or loses. If the plant does not completely lose the leaves, then light rare watering is carried out, and if the leaves turn completely yellow and dry, then watering is stopped. After replanting or planting new bulbs in the spring, some gardeners recommend several plentiful irrigation so that the marshmallows wake up early. But it is better to forget about the constant resumption of watering until the first signs of growth.
Increasing air humidity is not a mandatory measure. But if the air in the room is very dry, it is better to spray marshmallows to preserve the decorative foliage.
Fertilizers for marshmallows are applied at a frequency of 1 time in 2 weeks, but only during the period from the beginning of the growth of young leaves to the end of flowering. For this crop, it is better to use special fertilizers for flowering plants. The concentration of fertilizers is not reduced, using them in the amount recommended by the manufacturer. This onion responds well to organic dressing, but only in the spring.
Zephyranthes transplant and substrate
Like many small-bulb, zephyranthes are "family" plants. They form entire colonies and actively grow daughter plants, filling containers amazingly fast. The flowering of solitary plants is inconspicuous: it is due to the formation of nests and colonies that it seems that zephyranthes blooms so magnificent, and in fact, each peduncle produces only one flower. And the larger the colony, the better these bulbs grow and the more blooming they are.
This feature directly determines the frequency of transplants: marshmallows “move” to a new container only when they completely fill all the free space in the pot.
Transplant dates for zephyranthes are strictly defined: it is carried out not before, but at the end of the dormant period.
Any substrate for zephyrantes is suitable if it is sufficiently nutritious, loose, and of high quality. For plants, you can use universal earth mixtures. The optimal soil reaction is from 5.8 to 6.0 pH. If you mix the soil yourself, then take in equal parts turf soil, humus and sand and add a portion of phosphate fertilizers.
Too much pots for marshmallows never increase. The plant should have a place where to develop further, growing new children, but too spacious capacity will make you wait for flowering for several years: the upstart blooms only with the full development of the substrate, in cramped conditions. Preference should be given to wide but shallow containers.
The procedure for transplanting marshmallows is quite simple. If you want to propagate the plant, some of the children are separated, leaving at least a small "nest" of 6-8 plants and planting the bulbs in the same way as they grew in the previous container, completely deepening into the substrate (more precisely, deepening the bulb on the very neck - if your Zephyranthes it is long, then the neck should protrude above the soil level).
The main thing is not to water newly planted bulbs immediately after planting and wait a few days to moisten the soil until the upstart adapts (watering after transplanting is associated with a high risk of rotting of the bulbs).
Diseases and Pests of Zephyranthes
Zephyranthes often suffer from pests - both specific amaryllis worms and ordinary indoor spider mites and scale insects. On this bulbous, it is better to fight insects immediately with insecticides (systemic or more narrowly targeted). In case of severe damage to the amaryllis worm, it is better to throw away the plants.
Common problems in growing marshmallows:
- lack of flowering with a too spacious pot, violation of temperature conditions, improper watering during dormancy, poor lighting or overfeeding;
- loss of leaves and rapid yellowing of the plant in spring and summer due to drying of the substrate;
- poor flowering during overflow, drought, hot temperatures.
Reproduction of Zephyranthes
The upstart is propagated both by separating daughter bulbs, and growing from seeds.
Separating the nests and separating the bulbs is the easiest way. At the same time, they never use one onion: marshmallows plant at least 3-4 onions in one small pot.
It is more difficult to get from the seeds of a plant. First, zephyranthes require artificial pollination. And secondly, the seedlings are very sensitive to rot and bloom at best in the third or fourth year. Seeds of upstart very quickly lose their germination and must be used fresh.
Sowing is carried out in a universal substrate, spreading the seeds rarely, at a distance of 2.5-3 cm from each other and not covering the soil. Under the film or glass, they are exposed in warm, from 22 degrees bright places and maintain stable substrate moisture. The plant needs several picks (first in large containers, then several in small pots).