Mary Sue Ittner
Wed, 10 Dec 2003 12:37:05 PST
Dear All,

There hasn't been much discussion on the topic of the week. This time of 
the year a lot of us are busy I know. Does anyone else grow these besides 
Jane and Jerry? From Jerry's introduction and Jane's comments I gather they 
are less hardy than I anticipated. But if they are native to Europe to the 
Far East and Africa there must be a great deal of variation. Julian Slade 
tells me that there is a proposed reorganization of the genus splitting it 
into 16 genera. I hope he will tell us about it and whether he thinks most 
people will go along with it. If Brian Mathew thinks Hyacinthoides belongs 
in Scilla it will be interesting to see where that fits.

For years I have been trying to figure out when I get my NARGS seed list if 
there would be a Scilla I could grow so Jerry's wonderful introduction and 
Jane's comments are really helpful. Hopefully there will be some on the 
next list I can go directly to their posts and read about them.

What I am wondering is which species are the best for Mediterranean 
climates? Also I'm wondering which need summer water. Do some of them need 
hot summers to do well? From Jerry's intro. it sounds like you could have a 
whole string of blooming months with these.

Jane says these are easy from seed, but I remember from way back that 
Scilla natalensis seed was described as short lived and if not sown 
immediately probably wouldn't be viable. Is there a difference in viability 
of seed depending on the origin of the plant? If seed arrived from seed 
exchanges late winter or spring, would it need to be planted then? My 
experience with seed exchange seed (limited to only three species) was poor 
germination of two and survival of one, Scilla scilloides. It hasn't 
bloomed yet but I have to admit it was several years into my experience 
with it when a post of Jane's caught my eye explaining its growth cycle. 
Mine is just dying down now and when it did that before I no doubt thought 
it had died or was a summer grower. Now I let it get rained on in winter 
and keep watering it in summer.

There are some attractive Scillas from the Eastern Cape, at least they look 
attractive. Do you grow them Dave Fenwick? The books show them as shorter 
than Scilla natalensis. John Ingram shared some extra Scilla natalensis 
with me so I could try some in the ground to test how they coped with wet 
winters like mine. December has started out very wet so the test has begun. 
I saw one (I think) in a greenhouse in the Eastern Cape the first time I 
visited South Africa when Rhoda McMaster took us along to a Clivia meeting 
that I absolutely loved. I should dig out my slides to see if I have a name 
to ask if anyone is growing it.

Jim Waddick Jane reports is growing some so these must tolerate cold. Jim 
are you going to tell the rest of us about your experiences?

I think there are only a few species illustrated on the wiki (Scilla 
natalensis and Scilla peruviana are well illustrated and Jane has added a 
couple of pictures of the ones she has grown.) Hopefully Jane and other 
will more as they have them.

Mary Sue

At 11:23 AM 12/8/03 -0500, you wrote:
>                           Topic of the Week:  Scilla ( and Hyacinthoides  )
>      A genus with about 90 species, native of Europe across to the Far East
>and with a number of African species. My experience in zone 8.
>      Probably best known and one of the hardiest of the short stemmed
>inflorence with nodding flowers, the brilliant blue S. sibirica will grow 
>in about
>any position baring waterlogged or deep shady positions.  The form 'Spring
>Beauty' doesn't seem much different from the usual commercial form ( or 
>they are
>mostly SB in the trade ? ). A commercial white form has rather imperfectly
>formed florets but is nice from a distance.  The pale blue plant 
>previously known
>as S. sibirica var. taurica is apparently now S. ingridae-it is much less
>vigorous here and does not spread as freely as I'd like. Paler yet , S.
>mischtschenkoana (tubergeniana), is a very floriferous and valuable plant 
>naturalizes well.  S. m. 'Zwanenberg ' is slightly bluer in color.  Much 
>rarer and less
>willing to increase by seed or bulb is the lovely S.melaina with mid-dark 
>flowers, a great favorite here as well as a bright mid blue plant collected
>by Oleg Polunin and distributed as S. sp. Lebanon ( apparently NOT S.
>libanotica).  The most distinct of the group, S. rosenii bears reflexed 
>tepals a la
>Cyclamen; it supposedly prefers a dampish peaty medium, but grows here well
>enough in a raised bed in well-drained soil.
>     Another group with taller inflorescence, more open flowers  and a 
> leafier
>appearance includes the soft blue ( or white )  S. bithynica which self-seeds
>rapidly in a half-shaded to shaded spot.  Probably closely related but
>apparently only found as a naturalized plant, S. amoena has darker flowers 
>and is
>better in a sunnier spot.    Two others that have been much confused and good
>also in shady position are S. hohenhackeri and S. greilhuberi.  Scilla
>greilhuberi puts out leaves in early autumn and bears 10 inch racemes of 
>pendent blue
>bells-it bears quite a few leaves- perhaps too many. Scilla 
>hohenhackeri  waits
>until spring to sprout its neater leaves and is equal to greilhuberi in
>beauty.  Apparently closely related but with much narrower leaves S. 
>griffithii is
>rarely grown, seems to need a sunnier position and is worth seeking out.  One
>other that puts out leaves early in winter and often gets frosted here in 
>8,  S.cilicica is best in pot/frame culture with nice soft blue flowers.
>Another somewhat similar species, from Cyprus ( mountains ), S. morrisii 
>in winter here with milky pale blue flowers.  It hasn't been thorough a
>rigorous winter here yet.
>      Other European taxa with outfacing flowers include S.verna, a 
> diminutive
>plant for the collector; a taller form has been distributed by the Archibalds
>from the Pyranees.  Scilla monophyllos with its nice upright raceme of bright
>blue stands out by its single broad leaf;  virtually identical in flower but
>with more numerous and narrower leaves, S. ramburi  has naturalized itself in
>a sunny spots here.  Another with much broader leaves, S. messeniaca will 
>naturalize in ordinary garden beds.  Somewhat similar, S.liliohyacinthus has
>a bulb that mimics somehow a lily bulb; it does well in shade but didn't
>increase much in a former garden.  Much taller and with an airier 
>inflorescence and
>narrow leaves, S. persica naturalizes here easily and has good mid blue
>flowers; though it comes from water meadows in Iran it grows well here 
>summer watering. S. peruviana was discussed on PBS earlier this year.
>     A group with a few narrow leaves and racemes with up-facing flowers the
>bright blue S. bifolia with its pink and white forms is rather well known 
>and a
>worthy plant for naturalizing.  A very rare old form I'm fortunate to grow is
>S. bifolia ' Praecox ' ,  a much stouter plant that increases excruciatingly
>slowly; it has the look of a polyploid.  At the other extreme is the tiny
>snow-melt plant that has been called S. nivalis, frailer and much less 
>than bifolia
>       For  late summer/autumn S. scilloides (also incorrectly grown as
>S.nubiensis, which is a distinct species from N. Africa ) leads the pack, 
>flowering in August with its pinkish-mauve flowers that are nice with 
>autumnale.  Closely following and with much more open racemes are forms of S.
>autumnale with white, pale blue to dark blue flowers. It is borderline hardy
>here and is a collector's plant.  Following upon its heels is S.intermedia
>another collector's only plant, followed in November-December by the 
>lingulata with bright blue flowers.  John Lohnsdale has recently enumerated a
>number of forms he grows.  It is a pot plant here, probably better in zone 9.
>      Although the wood squills or blue-bells are now widely offered under 
> the
>generic name Hyacinthoides (previously called Scilla or Endymion ),
>distinguished from Scilla by the bulb being renewed yearly and having each 
>subtended by two ( rather than one ) bract.  Brian Mathew told me once he 
>it part of the genus Scilla, since the anomalous bulb in the genus Scilla may
>be analagous to the very different various bulb forms included in the genus
>Ornithogalum.  The tallest and broadest-leaved, H. hispanica  has flowers
>scattered around the stem.  The smaller, narrower leaved and having  narrower
>flowers hanging in one side of the stem,  H. nonscripta is less well known 
>in the
>US; it is the famous English blue-bell that forms such enchanting pools of 
>in copses and roadsides.  These two hybridize easily in cultivation and in
>Puget Sound where I live the hybrid, which has been distinguished as H. x
>massartiana in Europe, is vastly more common in gardens than the parental 
>Two cultivars that I consider essential are the tall blue ' Excelsior ' 
>and the
>bright violet-rose-pink ' Dainty Maid ', both wonderfully effective in the
>garden. There are several smaller species. Hyacinthoides italica has starrier
>outfacing flowers on 6-8 inch stems among rather broadish leaves. It 
>easily.  Two others with similar but slightly smaller flowers but with narrow
>leaves are H. reverchonii and H.vincentina ( the latter with a nice white
>form), both only grown in a frame here so far.
>Jerry John Flintoff
>Vashon Island,Washington,USA
>Zone 8
>pbs mailing list

Mary Sue Ittner
California's North Coast
Wet mild winters with occasional frost
Dry mild summers

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