One of the prettiest plants in my window garden just now is Scilla Madeirensis. I planted 3 bulbs of this “Giant Squill” in early October, and six weeks later they greeted me with spectacular clusters of celestial-blue: Madeirensis is named for its native habitat: the island of Madeira, off the coast of Morocco. There, in autumn, it sends up 2-foot tall, cone-shaped flowering stalks above pointed, purple-speckled, medium-green foliage. The plant grows to about half its usual size when confined to a pot in a window garden.
I should probably tell you that I received my tropical trio from Easy to Grow Bulbs (dot) com. They asked me to test Madeirensis’s winter-forcing potential.
How the forcing-trial unfolded:
I promptly potted myself, too, by drinking a martini.
All 3 subjects were planted in a crocked, 6-inch clay pot filled with an ordinary peat/perlite potting mix. Instead of burying the bulbs, I planted them half-in, half-out of the soil. I plant amaryllis bulbs in the same manner.
Then I saturated the potting mix, and placed the bulbs in my south-facing window garden. Mercifully, Madeirensis does not require a chilling period.
I passed out cigars.
One bulb sent up a flowering stalk after 5 weeks had passed, and another after six weeks. The third bulb hasn’t flowered yet, but that’s a good thing. I’d rather have a lengthy succession of bloom than one big bang.
The flowers are surprisingly long-lasting. In my cool window garden, which never exceeds 65°F, the racemes have remained fresh for nearly a month. The individual stars fade just as they bloom — from bottom to top.
And yes, that’s snow outside my window. A nor’easter rocked my region over the Thanksgiving holiday.
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