Massonia is a genus in the family Asparagaceae. It was named for Francis Masson, a Scottish student gardener at Kew who was sent to the Cape by Sir Joseph Banks in 1772 to collect seeds. It can be found in dry areas in southern Africa. Species have 2 prostrate or spreading leaves and a head-like inflorescence at ground level with large and leafy bracts and tubular flowers with the filaments shortly joined together at the base.
Growing Conditions and General Care
Most species are winter growers, summer dormant, and bloom early, often in late fall to early winter. Seeds are formed in a 3 angled (papery) capsule which as it dries elongates and easily lifts out or is detached to disperse the seeds.
Summer dormant plants will come out of dormancy on their own in the fall even when water is not given. Massonia species have perennial roots, but they are not as picky about losing them as members of the Amaryllidaceae. Repotting can be done any time, but probably best right before they come into growth. A dry dormancy is required.
Massonias are easily grown from seeds. Sow the seeds right before the growing season and cover with a thin layer of medium. Seeds will germinate in 2 to 3 weeks. First year seedlings make a single cylindrical leaf, and each progressive years, the leaf gets bigger until two leaves per bulb appear. Community pots of seedlings increase in size each year and the leaves can soon become crowded. Eventually they need to be transferred to one bulb per container, unless the container is large and can accommodate the spread of the leaves without overlapping too much.
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