How to Grow and Care for Bomarea

Bomarea is a tuberous member of the family Alstroemeriaceae. There are about 100 species, some of which are non-climbing, growing more like a ground cover, although the majority are climbers. They are found from Mexico on South, through the tropics, and into the Andes, down to Southern Chile, and are mostly plants of the forest understory, where they grow through adjacent vegetation in lightly shaded conditions. Some species are coastal, growing in the fog belt of Chile, so, not surprisingly, they do very well in Coastal California. Other species can only be found in the high altitude Páramo of South America.

Bomarea is related to Alstroemeria, where both flowers and leaves demonstrate this close relationship. The beautiful flowers of this genus are produced in a dense umbel at the end of the growing shoots. Each umbel can be composed of as many as 30 to 45 flowers if well grown, with flowers consisting of three outer tepals and three inner, sometimes of contrasting colors.

Seed Germination

Growing Bomarea from seed is not difficult as they have simple needs. Still, a little preparation before the initial planting of the seed is sometimes recommended to yield the best results. However, the preparation is normally only needed for seeds that have been stored for longer periods.

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To propagate seeds successfully it is best to sow them in a well-draining soil (50/50 mix of cactus compost and perlite will be fine) as soon as they are ripe or as fresh as possible in a propagator or warm greenhouse with temperature regulated at around 68 to 77 °F (20 to 25 °C). Planted this way, the seeds can germinate in as little as two weeks, but they can be a bit erratic, so don't be despondent if they don't all sprout at the same time as some can take longer.

If you are planting stored seeds, then stratify for around three weeks at 68 °F (20 °C) then three weeks at 41 °F (5 °C) as this will trick the seed into thinking that winter has passed and it is time to start growing. Seeds that go through stratification may take up to 2 months to germinate.

Keep growing medium moist but not wet or soggy, and do not let the growing medium dry out.

Once your seedlings have several true leaves and are big enough to handle, you should carefully pick out your new plants and place them into individual pots. Once they mature over the next few months, you can then pot them on again into a large planter or container or even into your garden soil in warmer and milder climates.

Growing Conditions and General Care

To see Bomarea at their best, they need a warm position with lots of sunlight (although they can be grown under artificial lights). They are quite tough, and the plants can survive milder areas if grown outside with roots that will survive to around 32 °F (0 °C) if a thick layer of mulch is provided. Still, the plant may die back in prolonged cold periods but will recover by springtime when new growth emerges.

Keep plants well-watered in the summer months, and when winter sets in, you should only provide a bare minimum amount of water, and the plant should be kept almost dry.


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