Scilla violacea: Silver Squill

If sansevieria was described as an ‘indestructible’ plant, then the same can be said of the species, for it is just as hardy, to say the least. It can be grown in well-drained potting compost, in a nutrient solution (hydroponics), as well as in pure peat; it does not matter if it is watered too much or too little; it may be overwintered at a temperature just below 10°C (50°F) as well as at a temperature of at least 20°C (68°F); it may be put beside a north-western window and even on a south-eastern window without any fear of it being harmed — in short, it will generally do quite well in any conditions. Loveliest, however, are specimens grown in rich, well-drained compost such as John Innes potting compost No. 2 in full sun, with fairly liberal watering in summer and overwintering in a cool, well-ventilated spot, though this is not a must. It even does very well if put in a window-box for the summer, in addition to which it looks very attractive there. In short, it is a plant suitable for any and every home.

Scilla violacea, native to South Africa, is one of the few species of the genus that is not fully hardy. Its bulbs, covered with brownish-purple scales that turn dry, grow above the ground. The underside of the leaves is also purple, but the upper surface is silvery grey with dark muted green horizontal streaks. The entire plant is 20 cm (8 in) high at the most. In spring it produces umbels of about 20 tiny flowers with reddish-violet filaments, which serve to distinguish it from the similar S. pauciflora. The latter has leaves that are almost sessile, green with grey spots above and not as brightly coloured on the underside. Propagation is easy, by means of offsets of the bulb.

15. November 2011 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Featured Articles, House Plants | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Scilla violacea: Silver Squill

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