Sandersonia originates from South Africa, but is now a rare plant in its natural habitat. It has been in New Zealand for more than 75 years. However, it is only during the last decade that production of cut flowers and tubers have become commercially important. The flowers are particularly sought after in Japan.
Sandersonia grows from a forked tuber with two growing points; each growing point develops a single shoot and roots. After shoot development, a new tuber (daughter tuber) is formed.
Under warm growing conditions, sandersonia shoots emerge quickly from non-dormant tubers, and flowering stems can be harvested within eight to 10 weeks after planting.
Daughter tubers develop at the base of the stem. These are initially marble-shaped, but flatten and elongate about one month after planting. Tuber growth continues for another three months.
Sandersonia plants die down about four to five months after the shoots emerge. At this stage, tubers are dormant, and require chilling to break this dormancy.
They can receive this chilling if left outdoors in the ground over winter, but in commercial production most tubers are lifted and are kept in cool stores to break dormancy.
A period of at least eight to 12 weeks at 3°C-5°C is required. Shoot emergence is slow and uneven from tubers that have not received adequate chilling.
Sandersonia grown outdoors flowers in November and December. Tubers can be stored at 3°C-5°C to prevent sprouting, and planted later in the season for late season production.
At higher storage temperatures, tubers sprout; lower temperatures may damage the tubers.