Romulus is not a competitor to crocuses
Among the flowering plants that can decorate the Alpine hills and rocky gardens, there are many special cultures that are famous not only for their beauty of flowering. One of such inimitable plants is a medium-sized, but spectacular romulus. Similar in bloom and agricultural technology to crocuses, it is, nevertheless, less stable and requires a somewhat unusual approach to cultivation, a low-winter crop. A rare beauty can become such a real star in the design of rocky compositions and decorate portable containers imitating alpine landscapes.
Romulea - a rare star for rocky compositions
Romulus is a rare and almost collection plant. This is a small accent for those who are looking for really special touches for decorating rock gardens and rockeries. Wild-looking, with large, spectacular flowers, this miniature beauty with modest greenery can become a real star. But growing romulus is far from easy. This plant is for those who have already become acquainted with the main cultures for decorating rocky gardens and are looking for unique plants not only in their appearance, but also in the cultivation strategy. A small exclusive decoration for connoisseurs.
The Romuli got their name in honor of Romulus, the founder of Rome and one of the two brothers from the main myth about the origin of the Eternal City. These are corm plants, which in nature can be found in two not quite similar habitats - the tropical climate of South Africa and the Mediterranean countries.
Romulus (Romulea) - compact, but not so small plants. Reaching a height of only 10-20 cm (40 cm is the maximum for a plant even in nature), the romulia releases a branchy or simple stem, crowned with a spectacular flower. The corms of the plant are quite flat, round-flattened, with a diameter of only 1.5 cm, with falling membranous scales. Narrow-linear, blade-like, often almost filiform, dark green leaves are collected at the base of the stem. The stems are not leafy, but at the base of the flower are two leaflets of the wrapper. Romulus flowers most often bloom one at a time at the tops of the stems. Reaching only 3 cm in diameter, they still seem very large. The flowers are symmetrical, with a perianth wide open, divided into six reed-like, lanceolate or wide-lanceolate petals, forming an elegant cup. Anthers and stamens form a bright center in the throat of a flower.
The color scheme of the Romulus includes not only purple and violet, saturated colors, but also pink or bright yellow options. Romulus flowers open only in sunny weather. This plant belongs to the primroses blooming in April, but sometimes the Romulus is capable of repeated September flowering.
Types of Romulus
Despite the fact that the natural diversity of romuli is impressive and more than 90 species of plants are included in the genus, less than a dozen are introduced into the garden culture. And popular plants can even be counted on the fingers of one hand.
Romulea Bulbacodium, or Chamomile Romulus (Romulea bulbocodium) - a favorite and most stable representative of the genus. This is a small tuberous plant with a rounded bulb up to 2.5 cm in diameter with narrow, dark green basal leaves folded into tubes, the length of which reaches 15 cm. Widely open funnel-shaped flowers bloom one at a time, are painted in a bright purple color with a yellow center. This type of Romulus in April blooms. Previously considered as a separate species Romulus spanish (Romulea clusiana) with yellow flowers, but today these two cultures are qualified as one plant.
Pink Romulus (Romulea rosea) - one of the most beautiful primroses. Single, funnel-shaped, wide-open flowers are distinguished by the perfect symmetry of narrow ovoid lobes narrowed at the ends and a dark pharynx. Color eloquently testifies to the name - pink-lilac, it is very bright and catchy.
Romulus one-time (Romulea monadelpha) we are increasingly sold in the seeds section of exotic plants. This is a red-blooming and very attractive beauty, forming small rosettes from narrow filiform leaves. A strong squat flower stalk rises from the center of the outlet, crowning with huge dark red flowers with a dark pharynx resembling a tulip in shape with petals turned outward. Perianth segments are very wide. This plant we grow only as a pot (indoor, greenhouse or garden).
Romulea Nivalis (Romulea nivalis) is very rare here. This is an elegant plant with lilac narrow lobes of the corolla and yellow pharynx, which seems quivering and tender. The leaves are very thin and dark, few in number.
Growing Romulus in regions with harsh winters
As a universal accent for the Alpine hills, this plant can be grown without much hassle only in the southern regions, where the Romulus does not suffer from winter frosts. The cultivation of Romuli in countries with severe winters is significantly complicated by the fact that the plant produces its leaves in winter and is generally a heat-loving crop, which by nature is not suitable for growing in northern latitudes. But this does not mean at all that lovers of exotics and generally difficult tasks cannot breed Romuli even in the middle zone. Growth strategies for this plant are significantly limited, but still quite varied:
- Romulus can be grown as potted plants that spend the entire warm season in the open air, putting them in the greenhouse or cool room for the winter.
- They are grown only in open ground, carefully covering for the winter and protecting from severe frosts.
- Romulus is grown in open ground, but for the winter it is dug in pots and stored indoors with regular care, transferring back only in April immediately before flowering.
The simplest strategy is to grow Romuli in pot culture. But in any case, this plant is better to recommend to experienced gardeners who like to mess with unusual cultures and are able to provide them with all the necessary care.
Romulus can be grown as a purely indoor plant, not even taking out into the fresh air or used to decorate a balcony and terrace in the summer.
In the design of the garden, romulus is used:
- for registration of rockeries and rock gardens;
- as an early flowering spring accent;
- as a potty accent for rocky gardens;
- in the collection of exotics in mobile rock gardens;
- to create bright spring spots, as an exotic decoration for groups with classic primroses.
The best partners for the Romulus: hyacinths, crocuses, Scylla, Pushkinia, muscari, edelweiss.
Conditions Required by Romulus
Regardless of the type and severity of winters, for Romuli it is necessary to provide two key factors that determine the success of cultivation:
- The most light, well-drained soil in which plants can be dry during the summer dormancy.
- Bright sunlight, protection against cold winds in the southern location.
This plant does not tolerate not just compacted soil, but also any ordinary soil. Romulus in the garden is grown exclusively in rockeries and rock gardens. When planting in containers, use light, airy, with loosening additives earth mixtures or imitate mobile rock gardens.
When planting, it is advisable not to deviate from the recommended depth of bulb placement - about 5 cm. In places where there is a risk of stagnation of water during snow melt or in summer, it is better to lay a powerful drainage under the plot for the Romulus.
This plant needs not quite the usual care: watering or top dressing for romuli is undesirable (and even contraindicated), except for cultivation in a pot culture, during which romuli are watered very carefully, avoiding overmoistening. Top dressing for potted romulus is carried out 1 time in 2 weeks. The main thing that will be needed by the Romulus is protection against waterlogging in the early spring and during the summer phase of dormancy, when rains and soaking are very dangerous. When planting with other plants that require the creation of greenhouses or shelter, care is simplified, as when grown in a pot culture.
Even when growing in the southern regions in open soil, romuli still need to be protected by mulching for the winter, which should reliably protect the base of the leaves from freezing on the coldest days. In regions with severe winters, if they want to leave corms on the soil, it is necessary to organize full protection for the winter. In addition to hilling and mulching, it should include air-dry shelter and protection with spruce branches.
But the simplest strategy is to remove the Romulia for the winter in the premises. In this case, the plants contain at a temperature of 10 to 15 degrees in the brightest light and regularly watered, not allowing the soil to dry completely.
Propagation of Romulus
Despite its capriciousness, romuli very easily breed. New plants can be obtained not only by separating daughter corms, but also by separating tubers or seeds. If we are talking about rare varieties of romulus, it is better to use vegetative methods. But any romulus is easily grown from seeds and blooms quite quickly, because it does not need to form very large corms. Sowing is carried out in autumn in regions with mild winters and in spring in regions with severe frosts. It’s easier to select the time for separation: they dig out the romulule and propagate it only during the summer dormant period.