Allium TOW - response to Jane McGary
Sun, 09 Mar 2003 19:44:42 PST
Jane McGary wrote:
>The two that have defeated me are A. narcissiflorum
>and A. insubricum, which are beautiful alpine species
>I would like to have. I have plants of both but neither 
>has flowered, and some of my A. narcissiflorum are
>6 years old.

It surprises me that you've had difficulties with these beautiful species.  
When I lived in the Seattle Washington area, I grew about 3 forms of each 
species, and they were among my favorites, and I should think that your 
climate in Oregon isn't too different than Seattle?  I never got clumps as 
big as I saw in the legendary Bob Putnam's garden, where each clump of A. 
narcissiflorum was 12" across or more and had many dozens of flowering stems. 
 It's a species that benefits from some shade and coolness, prefering an 
open, friable soil.  Here in New England, I have failed miserably with it, 
but then again I planted them out in the hot sun where they fry when it's 
near 100 degrees (my garden is mostly sunny, hot and dry).  A nearby friend, 
Marsha Russell, grows it under the shade of large evergreens, and it reliably 
flowers each year.  Allium narcissiflorum is very closely related to A. ins
ubricum, in fact the latter was once considered a subspecies of the former, 
and is only separated on minor details.

>One favorite that has not been mentioned is 
>A. hierochuntinum, a xeric species I grow in 
>the bulb frame. The dense flower heads are a 
>shade of blue-lavender that I don't remember 
>seeing in other alliums. I grew it from seed 
>collected by Halda, and I seem to recall that 
>I have seedlings this year from it.

OohhhHHH, now I'm truly envious.  I've wanted to grow this species for many 
years.  I have ordered seed from Mike Salmon in England 5 or 6 times, and 
have actually had germination, but I've yet to succeed in growing it.  What 
treatment do you give it?  Maybe this middle eastern species isn't hardy in 
New England unless grown in a bulb frame.  Perhaps I'll be in contact with 
you about this one  ;-)

Mark McDonough        Pepperell, Massachusetts, United States    "New England"               USDA Zone 5
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