Winterized Victorias

By Enrique Bay-Schmith
Concepcion, Chile
Click image to enlarge

V. 'Longwood Hybrids' now in the pond

Enrique, a member of our email discussion list, was successful starting and growing Victoria seedlings over the winter. Another list member asked for details which we provide here. We find his method of producing a nutrient package suitable for babies, where "cocktail" ingredients are not available, quite clever.

How do you keep Victorias alive in a heated tank?

My plants were in 1 x 0.4 x 0.5 meter (40x16x20") aquarium with a 300 watt aquarium
heater. The container was in a greenhouse without other heating than sun. I live at 37º South latitude in Concepcion, Chile, near the ocean, This helps to have no less than -3 or -5 ºC (27F-23F) for a few hours some nights in winter, but not so low inside the greenhouse. It seems that the water keeps an atmosphere of sufficiently warm air over the water surface, enough for Victoria's comfort.  

What temperature?

The thermostat was set at 28ºC (82F). 

How large a pot?

Seedlings began in cups of 7 cm (2.7") in diameter and 8 cm (3.1") high and at the end of
the winter were in one quart (1 L) plastic yogurt containers. 

What kind of soil?

Sandy soil mixed with composted garden scraps. A spoon of peat was used with the seedlings, proportionally more for the larger plants.

Fertilization: As there is no offer around here of specific products for water gardening and since definitive pads were around 5 cm (2"), I used flower-pot-fertilizer in pills which were sunk into the soil, complemented with injections (1.5 to 3 ml) of:a special solution made this way:

Pour boiling water over granular fertilizer (NPK 5.5-11-12.5).
Pour boiling water through a kitchen funnel, provided with a paper towel, over an extract of composted leaves (good garden soil).
Add a few drops of liquid fertilizer for plant spraying (NPK 6-4.5-3) because of its
micronutrients and amino acids.

Younger plants received injections only, weekly or biweekly. I have not tested this recipe against a control of different composition to check its real value but, although it sounds like a witch concoction, it worked to keep the plants alive and growing.

What kind of light?

Ambient light of the greenhouse, without electric support. Growth was indeed slow but just appropriate for the space available in the aquarium, and space crisis occurred just at the time when it was possible to put the plants outdoors with three pads, 30 cm (11.7") the biggest. 


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