In spite of drying and freezing, an older seed made a

Mammoth Victoria cruziana

by François van Avondt, Zutendaal, Belgium
Images by Koen Geurts - Click to enlarge

The start of the Victoria season here in Belgium was not good. First, sprouting of the seeds went wrong. My own seeds didn't want to sprout and, from the seeds that I received from Kit and Ben Knotts, only two sprouted. But after the first leaves reached the surface of the water, they rotted.

In January and February, the pond was emptied and cleaned. The large bucket (1 metre² [3 feet²]) for the Victoria was filled with earth and old fertilizer from horses. During this process, the greenhouse was still unheated and the pond was dry. We had several nights which were very cold. It froze -3 to -5 °C (26 to 23 °F)!!!

^ Waterlilies in the greenhouse V

After two months of the pond being dry and the freezing temperatures, we filled the pond with warm water of 26 °C (79 °F) and heated the greenhouse in order to plant tropical lilies in the Victoria pond. Three weeks later, three Victoria cruziana 02C35 seeds that stayed behind started to sprout by themselves.

One of the baby Victorias was planted in the bucket. This Victoria cruziana was the biggest we ever had since we started growing them seven years ago. Its leaves had a diameter of 210 cm (indeed more than two metres - 6.5 feet!!) and a rim of 23 cm (9") high!! The first of its flowers stayed open day and night, and all the flowers have given a lot of seeds.

We have always thought that Victoria seeds cannot withstand dryness and freezing temperatures, but these did!!

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François van Avondt


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