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Plantgasm - I love plants too much. By Derek Powazek.

Crinum moorei, Most Potbound Plant Ever

Once a year my beloved San Francisco Botanical Garden has a special plant sale just for members. And since Heather got me a membership for my last birthday, I’m proud to have a card in my walled that signifies my “Avid Gardener” status. So I was there last Friday for the big sale. And it was pretty freaking impressive.

My biggest score, literally and figuratively, was a 4-foot-tall Crinum moorei. I’d noticed them in Thailand, but they’re actually native to South Africa. Even though it looks like a Dracaena, it’s basically just an enormous Amaryllis. The flowers look almost identical – just larger. When I saw three for sale, I broke my own “buy small plants” rule and grabbed the largest one.

Crinum moorei

When I got home, I unpotted it to find the most potbound plant I’d ever seen. The roots formed a dense mat taking up most of the 10-inch pot. (This isn’t a complaint, by the way. I was thrilled to see he was a vigorous plant begging for more space.) You could see where the roots actually grew around the drainage holes. Most of the pot was taken up by the bulb itself, which was about 7 inches wide. (More photos here.)

I decided to pop off one of the offsets and pot it to keep indoors. The main plant went out in the garden in a shady spot, along with a bunch of other shade plants I picked up at the sale. San Francisco is not exactly South Africa, but the plant was raised here and will hopefully be happy out back.

Crinum moorei

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3 Responses

Wow, impressive. I wonder how long it could live outside a pot, and not planted.

Posted by Matti on 8 May 2011 @ 10pm

Judging by how many years it must have been in this pot, and how happy it was, I think it’d be just fine!

Posted by Derek on 9 May 2011 @ 11am

can’t wait to see it bloom – it totally does look like a dracaena!

Posted by ellieT on 9 May 2011 @ 12pm


Plantgasm is where Derek Powazek chronicles his botanical antics and misadventures. More.