Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tubers in the bank

Someone once suggested I never get my hands dirty while gardening. Someone was wrong.

I have been rooting about in pots and built-in planters, unearthing treasure. The gloriosa lilies have been yellowing and I pulled down their tired stems and leaves from the birch screen, only to find this surprise, above and below: a seed pod split open to reveal brilliance. I've never seen one, before. They obviously like the Harlem terrace.

Even better, deep in the soil, I have unearthed fresh, fat tubers. The plants have reproduced, prolifically. In previous years, in Brooklyn, these underground storage organs have just rotted over the too-cold winters, and I have had to order fresh stock every spring. But when I found one the other day by chance, I decided to investigate, farther.

After slicing two in half with a trowel (forehead-slap, doh!), I used my fingers. I don't think I'll have to order new ones next year. These are twice the size of the purchased tubers. That will be a helpful little saving (about $60 - I have ten, so far); but, better, it is fun.

The original, used-up tubers on the left.  The new, strong ones on the right. They are about 10" long.

The gloriosa lilies last June. 

If anyone would like to try their hand at propagating the seeds, let me know and I'll mail them to you.


My next edible botanical walk is this Saturday in Central Park


  1. Hi, Marie! I would love to try! I have a new Italian figs if you like for exchange ( they grow in someone's garden near New Hope, PA for almost 20 years and fruit profusely).
    I love your blog,

    1. Great, Anna (and thank you!). Could you email me your address?

      marieyviljoen at gmail ([dot] com

  2. Exciting! Can relate to forehead slap after slicing bulbs...happens to me all the time. Earlier this year I germinated some Gloriosa seeds - they are very easy - and now they are waking up after winter dormancy. Wonder whether they will flower? Probably have to wait another year.

  3. AQIS would throw me in the hoosegow if you sent some to me! But those seeds intrigue me - I've never seen them.Here, the pods fatten, then dry and curl back dropping dark, tiny seed. The neighbour has some so I'll have a closer look.(My last plant was snapped by a falling palm frond)

  4. Just a reminder, this is an invasive species.

    1. Not in NY. Where are you, Anonymous?

      In cold climates, like ours, the tubers cannot survive winter, so the plant is treated as an annual.

  5. I'd love some but I have nothing to share with you. Well, nothing you don't already have. Unless you'd like some spider plant or pothos clippings.

  6. If you still have extra seeds, I'd also like to try. All I have to exchange that might be of interest are a bunch of houseplant bits (variegated african violet leaves and rather tiny dragonfruit seedlings - but most of your plants seem to live outside), rat-tail radish seeds (hugely productive here in eastern MA), and long bean (Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis, the dark purple-podded kind) seeds.

    (I see your email address up there but am too shy to send an unsolicited email)

  7. Thank you everyone, and especially for the exchange offers. The seeds will be sent to first-comer Anna - I am not sure how viable they will be, so its safer to have the lot.


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