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  Helicodicerous question
From: leo at possi.org (Leo A. Martin) on 2007.09.25 at 01:40:53(16333)
Hello All,

I live in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, where it's really hot in the summer and
winters are mild with occasional overnight frost. Excellent winter weather
for mediterranean climate plants. We get some summer rain.

I have (still, I hope) a Helicodicerous muscivorous in a pot. I bought a
small tuber four summers ago and, that fall, potted it into a glazed
ceramic container holding about 6 liters/1.5 gallons of soil. I used local
soil dug from a dry wash, which is fairly heavy and almost all mineral. I
put the tuber about 2 inches / 5cm below the soil surface.

The first growing season it did nothing all winter even though I watered
it regularly. It then produced two or three small leaves in late April,
when it was already good and warm here (upper 80s F / 20s C). I kept
watering it until the leaves died down in July.

The next growing season I again watered all winter, but it waited until
early May to produce only one or two smallish leaves. Temperatures then
are normally in the 90s to 110 F / 30C-45C. It remained in leaf about a
month, then went dormant.

The next growing season I watered all winter. It produced about 10 nice,
lush leaves, though not as big as I read they are supposed to be. It
waited until late April. It went dormant in June.

Last growing season I watered all winter. It made 2 small leaves in late
April, and went dormant in about a month.

Obviously the plant isn't happy about something. I don't understand why it
waits so long to grow, why it made such good growth one year, then such
poor growth last year.

It's just turning fall here. Any suggestions? Should I repot the tuber
now? Should I try a different soil mix? Should I fertilize a lot more?


Leo Martin

From: crogers at ecoanalysts.com (D. Christopher Rogers) on 2007.09.26 at 15:47:38(16338)
Hello Leo!

Helicodiceros likes a cool wet (but well drained) winter as prelude to
emerging. What I would suggest is that you store the dormant tubers in your
fridge. Phoenix just does not get cold enough for them. When the plants go
dormant, I would move them to the air-conditioned confines of your home for
a month. Then, dig up the tubers, wash them, remove any rot spots, let them
air dry, dust them well with cinnamon (especially where there was any rot),
wrap them in damp (well wrung out) long fibered sphagnum moss, and put them
in the refrigerator for a month or two, or until you see new growth. Then
plant them, again in the confines of your air-conditioned abode for a month
or so, gradually moving them back out side.

In the wild and here in northern California, they need about 6 to 8 hours of
full sun. But with the intensity of the sun in your neck of the woods, I
would use bright, reflected light or 60% shade cloth.

I hope this helps.

Happy days,

From: Deni at yaxhampark.co.uk (Deni Bown) on 2007.09.26 at 17:48:37(16340)
Hi Leo,

My experience of growing Helicodiceros is almost the opposite of yours.
For a start, I live in E England so growing conditions are very
different. I keep my plants under glass, min. 45F in winter, and we have
cool summers, though the greenhouse easily reaches 80-90F on sunny days.

I use a very gritty potting mix based on John Innes No. 3 (i.e. a
loam-based medium) and the smallest pot - a 2-inch tuber might be lucky
and get a 6-inch pot. I repot them every year in September and they
come into growth Oct-Nov, dying down by May-June, after which I keep the
tubers in the pots and bone dry. After repotting I don't water until
I'm sure they are sprouting and rooting as I reckon there is enough
moisture in the new compost to get them going. Even when they are up &
running, I go easy on water as I reckon that most tuberous aroids in
pots tend to rot very easily unless temperatures are consistently high
and they are in active growth. (From what you say though, this may not
be the case for Helicodiceros as it sounds like you water plenty even
when there's no sign of growth.) I don't fertilise much either, just the
occasional general liquid feed dispensed unscientifically to one & all
when I remember.

My problem is that they grow very well - like weeds - but spend most of
their energy offsetting instead of getting big and blooming. Every year
I chuck away dozens of pea-sized offsets. The largest leaves I get are
maybe 7-8" tall with 5" blades. They always look a bit weedy, not with
the kind of muscle to produce an inflorescence.

I have pots and pots of Helicodiceros now but we're talking quantity not
quality. All I want is one whopper that blooms so I can
surprise/delight/amuse all who pass by.

Perhaps there's someone out there who can advise us both!

Deni Bown

From: crogers at ecoanalysts.com (D. Christopher Rogers) on 2007.09.27 at 16:55:14(16348)
Hello, Deni!

First off, your book is great!

Secondly, you may not be getting large plants due to a lack of real heat.
When my plants go dormant, I leave them potted during the summer months,
which are very dry. But summers here have high temperatures between 32 and
48 degrees C, with humidity down around 5%. My plants are typically growing
well into the first month or so of summer, well into 35 degree C
temperatures, before dormancy.

Offsets are common, usually making a single bloom after two years, two
blooms after four years.

But then, I do live in a Mediterranean clime, and that may have something to
do with it. Here you can just put them in the ground (usually best on a
slope for drainage) and they will grow just fine, year 'round.

Conversely, the problem you have described I seem to be having with my
Arisaema taiwanensis. Go figure.

Happy days,

From: leo at possi.org (Leo A. Martin) on 2007.10.02 at 22:46:39(16380)
Well, I emptied my Helicodicerous pot, and as far as I can tell, I have an
ex-Helicodicerous. Or perhaps one that is invisible. I will start looking
for another.

Leo Martin

From: Deni at yaxhampark.co.uk (Deni Bown) on 2007.10.03 at 09:36:19(16381)
Commiserations,Leo. And to think that a week ago I chucked dozens of
tiny offsets on the compost heap. I won't do this in a hurry again now
I know there may be folks out there who might appreciate my surplus.

Deni Bown, Norfolk, England

From: honeybunny442 at yahoo.com (Susan B) on 2007.10.05 at 12:51:39(16397)
And pay quite a bit for them too, judging by ebay sales.

Deni Bown wrote: Commiserations,Leo. And to think that a week ago I chucked dozens of
tiny offsets on the compost heap. I won't do this in a hurry again now

From: agoston.janos123 at gmail.com (Jan Agoston) on 2007.10.06 at 19:23:47(16411)
Yepp, if you have surplus from Helicodiceros save them for others. Our new neighbour keeps their pigs outside, who just came to us to eat some bulbs & tubers from my collection. Maybe they don't like Helicodiceros.

Anyway do you know chicken and pig resistant hardy aroids please? If do don't hesitate to share it with me!

Jani, Z5a, Hungary

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