Alpine Garden Society

Ulster Group

Plant of the Month, March 2015
 Tecophilaea cyanocrocus  - by Gordon Toner
Tecophilaea cyanocrocus is also known as the Chilean Crocus (though it is not closely related to members of the genus Crocus).

I bought my bulbs of Tecophilaea cyanocrocus from "Buried Treasure" nursery in Wales.  I have also grown it from seed, when it takes 3 - 4 years to flower.

It flowers in February - April, with bright blue flowers and linear deep green leaves, about 3 - 4 inches (70 - 100 mm) high.

 (Photos here were taken on "Snowdrop Day", 14 February 2015)

I feed the plants in spring and then, as it needs hot and dry conditions,  I keep the pots in the alpine house all summer.

In September I would sort out the larger bulbs and re-pot them in an open compost. I keep the pots dry all winter and start watering when the first signs of leaves appear.
I hope for a good display for the show-bench at the A.G.S. shows in April.
Tecophilaea was named for Tecophila Billotti, botanical artist and daughter of the Italian botanist who found this plant in 1836, It is from high, dry, stony slopes in the Andes near Santiago in Chile. It was for some time thought to be extinct in the wild, due to overcollecting, but was rediscovered in 2001 on private land south of Santiago.