Winter torches, as the magnificent Veltheimias are also called, are those flower growers who were lucky to become the owner of a unique bulbous plant - these are impressive and exotic plants. In regions with harsh winters, thermophilic and rather capricious beauties cannot be grown in soil. But in the room culture, the Veltheimia fully reveals its beauty. And although you can’t call them simple care, and they need a unique temperature regime, these plants deserve their leadership positions in the list of bulb exotics.
A representative of the Asparagaceae family, Veltheimia came to us from the rich flora of South Africa. A century ago, in the 20-30s. The twentieth century, veltheim was considered perhaps the most popular and fashionable indoor and greenhouse culture. But after a sharp decline in popularity, this plant has gone through a period of almost oblivion and is only now returning to fashion.
Veltheimias are magnificent onion perennials from among large plants, whose true sizes can only be estimated when grown in soil. But even in room culture, these bulbs conquer with power and their unusual details. The maximum height is about half a meter. Veltheymias form a beautiful rosette of broad-lanceolate, with a grooved midrib and a wavy edge, of the leaves. Most often, an unusual grayish color is characteristic of the leaves of Veltheimia, but according to this indicator, the culture is quite variable.
Beautiful, dense, very original leaves distinguish veltheymia against any background and are by no means inferior to its flowering. Unfortunately, during the summer dormant period, the plant loses all its greens, but in the active period of growth it will be difficult to find exotics equal in beauty.
In the development of Veltheymia there is a pronounced dormant period during which the plant loses its leaves. But the active phase of growth in Veltheimia is divided and requires correction of conditions: with the appearance of the first signs of the beginning of growth, Veltheimia grows leaves and needs to be provided with a warm environment, but for flowering the plant will have to be kept cool. Thus, in the development of Veltheimia warm and light and cold and dark periods do not coincide with each other. With a classic landing at the end of summer, the resting period of the Veltheimia lasts almost all summer. The plant begins to grow in September (closer to the third decade).
Veltheymia inflorescences are most similar to the inflorescences of another star, but this time not of the room, but of the garden - of knizofia. "Brushes" for washing dishes, fluffy tails, torches - with which only the shape of such inflorescences is not compared. But Veltheymia, perhaps, the epithet "winter torch" is most suitable, because this plant blooms in the winter-spring period. Inflorescence sultans are dense panicles crowning strong, purple peduncles up to 50 cm long.
Bright veltheimium buds transform into paler, various shades of pink, narrow-tube flowers with short pedicels, slightly hanging down. In combination with a dark peduncle, the flowers look contrasted. The color scheme of the plant is limited to fawn and bright shades of pink, fuchsia and muted yellow. After flowering of Veltheimia (without cutting flower stalks), triangular boxes of fruit decorated with wide wings are tied.
This very beautiful plant is represented by only two species: a very popular Veltheimia Cape (Veltheimia capensisformerly known as Veltheimia greenflower — Veltheimia viridifolia) and veltheimia bract (Veltheimia bracteata) Both species are very similar to each other. In fact, they are distinguished only by color details and leaf size: in Celtian veltheymia, leaves up to 12 cm are combined with a monophonic peduncle, and in bracts of Veltheimia, bracts grow to 30 cm, flower stalk is spotty, and the color of flowers is pink and light green.
Home Care for Veltgemia
Veltheimia is not a simple plant at all. And it is no coincidence that it is recommended to grow it in greenhouses and conservatories. This culture is demanding on air temperature (especially its value during the preparation for flowering), and lighting, and humidity. But to find another bulbous blooming in winter, and even so long, with a more unusual appearance, is impossible.
This bulbous does not tolerate direct sunlight, which significantly harm the leaves (even though they seem amazingly powerful and strong). For Veltheimia, it is necessary to provide diffused bright lighting. Shading at the flowering stage is undesirable, but slight shading during the growth and wilting of the leaves will not harm the plant. In the dormant period, after complete loss of leaves and before they begin to grow, veltheimia should be kept in the dark.
The eastern and western window sills are considered the best place for Veltheimia, but, considering the flowering is only cool, it is more likely to use locations on a balcony or loggia, in a cool greenhouse, cool heated hallways, patios and verandas with low temperatures.
It is because of the selection of temperatures that Veltheimia is most often recommended not to be grown in rooms, but in winter gardens and greenhouses. Indeed, the conditions prevailing in a cool conservatory, ideally suited to this culture, are difficult to recreate without their own greenhouse. And it is precisely the requirements for air temperatures that flower growers are most afraid of, who are eyeing Veltheimia as a potential exotic for their collection.
Veltheimia is a thermophilic culture, but relatively. The minimum allowable temperature drop for a plant is limited to only 10 degrees of heat. But at the same time, a temperature close to the lower value (about 12 degrees) is needed for veltheymia in order to bloom. Room values are permissible during the dormant period, and for the period from the moment of leaf growth to the beginning of flowering. Optimum values are 20-21 degrees.
Since about October, temperature has been gradually reduced in order to turn Veltgemia into cool in November. And it should bloom precisely in coolness (in the warmth the plant will not release peduncles). The more stable the indicators, the better.
It complicates the cultivation of indoor Veltheimia and dislike for drafts, temperature extremes, unstable environment. But she needs constant airing: in unventilated rooms, the plant is quickly affected by diseases. Veltheymia is taken out to the garden, but only during the period when nighttime temperatures rise above 10 degrees. Veltheimias are not dug into the soil in the garden; they are put up in pots and containers, decorating the terrace, resting areas or flower beds. But during the entire period of stay in the Veltheimia garden, it is necessary to ensure very careful care and not even allow the slightest threat of drought.
Veltheimia irrigation and humidity
The main task of thorough systemic care of veltheimia is to protect the plant from complete drying of the substrate. The procedures are carried out regularly, but very carefully, maintaining stable light soil moisture. Since Veltheimia is extremely afraid of getting the bulb wet, it is better to water this exot through the pan (but, if you are careful, you can do with watering along the edge of the pot). Watering is continued until the end of spring or when the leaves begin to dry at the same frequency, checking how wet the substrate is in the tank and how it dries to prevent dampness and the spread of mold.
From the moment the Veltheimia leaves begin to dry out, watering is becoming ever more rare, and when the leaves are completely dead, the procedures are stopped completely and do not resume until the first signs of the beginning of growth appear after a period of rest. Resumption of irrigation is also carried out slowly and gradually.
Humidity for Veltheimia does not increase, it tolerates normal room conditions without correcting these indicators.
Veltheimia Nutrient Fertilizers
Fertilizers for this plant will be needed only during the active growth phase: from the moment the leaves begin to grow rapidly and until flowering ends, complex universal fertilizers are added to the plant along with watering. Mixtures for flowering plants are also great, but will adversely affect the leaves. This bulbous is afraid of excess nitrogen, even at the time of leaf regrowth.
Excavation of Veltheimia during the dormant period
It is not necessary for Veltheimia to take out the bulbs from the soil during the dormant period: since the plant does not need annual transplants, the bulb can be left in the substrate at the dormant stage and simply stopped watering. And so Veltheimia will not need to be transferred to a cool (but only in a dark) place. But if it is more convenient for you to dig from the soil, then the bulb needs to be thoroughly cleaned, inspected, dried and sent to a dark and cool place (like storing any dug onion and tuber crops).
Bract bracts can spend a dormant period with leaves, if you just slightly limit watering, stop feeding and transfer the plant to open air. But a more magnificent flowering is still characteristic of the Veltheimia, which have passed the dry phase of dormancy.
Veltheymia transplant and substrate
Light earth mixtures are suitable for Veltheimia, universal substrates or special soil for bulbous can be used. With self-mixing, for Veltheimia, both a regular mixture of equal proportions of sand, leaf and turf soil, and a more complex substrate consisting of 5 parts of turf, 3 parts of greenhouse, 1 part of deciduous and half of sand with a small addition of bone meal are suitable.
If during the dormant period the bulb is dug out of the soil, then they are planted in a fresh substrate of veltheimia to stimulate flowering at different times in the fall. But if you want to admire the winter-spring flowering, then it is better to choose the classic version, postpone planting until the last decade of August and the first decade of September.
When stored in the soil, the strategy is different. Veltheimia bulbs are transplanted once every 2 years, at the same time when bulbs are planted in early September. The next year after the transplant, they just replace the top layer of the substrate.
When transplanting, the plant must be handled very carefully. The bulb is pulled out of the pot without destroying the earthen lump, and then the substrate is carefully removed and the roots examined. All damaged, rotten or dry Veltheimia roots are trimmed by treating the cuts with charcoal and allowing them to dry. The baby in the plant must be separated. Like many bulbous, veltheimia does not tolerate complete deepening. A third or half of the bulb should remain above the surface of the soil. Install it strictly horizontally, trying not to incline.
The first time after a transplant of Veltheymia, very careful care will be required. Watering is carried out carefully, only slightly moistening the soil, and the plant is transferred to the usual care only with the beginning of active growth.
Veltheymia tanks are needed not close, but spacious enough, which significantly distinguishes this plant from hippeastrum and most indoor bulb exotics. The main thing is that the height of the container is less than its diameter. If desired, Veltheimia can be grown in large and spacious containers, placing several bulbs in one container. But it’s better not to experiment with adult Veltheymias: planting a “group” is more suitable for daughter bulbs, which need to be grown separately for several years before flowering. For young bulbs, you can pick up pots, multiplying in half the diameter of the bulb itself.
Veltheimia diseases and pests
Fungal diseases and all types of mold, which threaten the plant when the substrate is waterlogged or inaccurate watering soaking the bulb, are the most dangerous for veltheimia. Drying the substrate helps to cope with the problem when quickly detected, but complete drying is undesirable for veltheymia in the stage of active development (it may cause leaf withering or lack of flowering).
Of the pests of Veltheimia, the aphid causes the most trouble, which is better to fight with insecticides.
Reproduction of Veltheimia
The easiest way to increase your “winter torches” collection is to separate the daughter bulb during transplantation. During the inspection of the roots, the baby is separated from the mother plant and planted in low plates or small pots, caring for her in the same way as for adult Veltheymia.
The seeds are planted only with artificial pollination, germination is long and requires control of temperature and humidity (21 degrees and at least 75% humidity). Veltheymias obtained from seeds bloom only for 3-4 years, but because of the complexity of handling young plants, the seed method is most often used only for industrial purposes.