VALLOTAS are bulbous flowering plants closely related to hip-peastrums, which they resemble. The genus is composed of only one species, V. speciosa (also called V. purpurea; popularly known as the Scarborough-lily), which is an excellent plant for a sunny window. The leaves are dark green often tinged at the base with bronzy red, narrowly strap-shaped, and 1 ½ inch wide and up to 15 inches long. Flowers are trumpet-shaped, bright scarlet, and 3-4 inches in diameter; they are produced in late summer in a cluster of from three to eight on a 2-foot-tall stem. The bulbs are brown-skinned, and of flowering size when about 11/2 inches in diameter. Forms with more delicate flower coloring a white,'Alba,' and a pale salmon pink, V.s. 'Delicata'— exist, but are relatively hard to obtain.
Light In order to flower, vallotas must have some direct sunshine, or very bright light.
Temperature Vallotas do well in normal room temperatures during the active growth period, but they should be rested in winter under cooler conditions (about SO°-55°F).
Watering Water newly potted vallotas sparingly allowing the top two-thirds of the potting mixture to dry out between waterings. When they are well established (six to eight weeks after bulbs were planted), give them enough water to make the potting mixture just moist. During the winter rest period, water only enough to prevent the potting mixture from drying out completely.
Feeding From mid-spring to midsummer feed established plants once every two weeks with standard liquid fertilizer; switch to a high-potash fertilizer (as used for tomatoes) during the late summer and through to the beginning of the rest period; then stop feedings altogether.
Potting and repotting Vallotas need a rich soil-based potting mixture. The best time to pot up new, ready-to-flower bulbs is in spring or early summer. Plant one bulb to a 5-inch pot, half in and half out of the potting mixture. It is essential to pack the mixture firmly around the bulb. The roots should then be left undisturbed in the same pot for three or four years; during that time an annual spring topdressing of fresh mixture, incorporating a slow-acting fertilizer such as bonemeal, is all that is necessary.
Propagation Propagation is usually by division of overcrowded clumps in spring or early summer. The large bulb of the original plant will divide into several separate bulbs during the course of three or four years, and small, attached, side bulbs will also be produced; when the upper surface area of the pot is entirely filled with bulbs, detach the side bulbs carefully and divide the plant. Plant bulbs of flowering size about as big as a mature shallot in 5-inch pots, smaller ones in the 3-inch size, and move them on annually as they enlarge.
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