Pro Lycoris versus nothing

Jim McKenney
Mon, 16 Aug 2004 09:24:13 PDT
At 08:25 AM 8/16/2004 -0500, Jim Waddick wrote:

>And in 2002 I sold over 2,000 Chinese Lycoris bulbs (23 
>varieties) Were you not interested less than 2 years ago?

Actually, Jim, my interest in Lycoris goes back a long way. It probably
peaked back in the '70s when I was raising seedlings of Lycoris sprengeri.
It and L. sanguinea were the only Lycoris I had which were both hardy and
would set seed. 

I found these plants to be very slow from seed; furthermore, they are very
prone to bulb fly infestation here. It was an uphill battle. For awhile I
dropped out of the Lycoris scene, but I always have had a vestigial
interest in the genus. 

When I was younger, I was not much of a joiner; and as a result, a lot that
was happening in horticulture was under my radar screen. When the current
new wave of Lycoris importations from China first began to arrive, I was
preoccupied with other Chinese imports. 

Five or six years ago I mentioned hardy yellow Lycoris to a friend: she
said "contact Jim Waddick". I had never heard of Jim Waddick, and didn't
follow through on it. I dropped the ball there, and thus missed the boat. I
don't know if you saw some of my earliest postings to PBS, but one of the
questions I asked was one concerning a hardy, yellow Lycoris. I had some
catching-up to do!

I guess it does seem like faint praise indeed when I say of Lycoris
squamigera something like "it stinks". But I really do like the plant; it's
one of those reliable workhorse plants which takes care of itself and does
it thing as reliably as anything in the garden. It's well represented in my
garden, and I still jump at the chance to acquire bulbs when the price is
right. I'm handicapped there: I can remember when they were 50 cents each;
recently I saw them listed for $7.98 each, a price which strikes me as
outrageous for such an easily grown plant. They are no harder to grow than
daffodils, and by rights should not be any more expensive than most
established, standard daffodil cultivars. Last year at a local plant sale
there was a stall selling home grown bulbs from an old established planting
for a much more reasonable price: I took twenty-five, and would have taken
more had I the cash with me. 

For what it is worth, you can take some solace in your failure to grow
Amaryllis belladonna well. You are in distinguished company: Thomas
Jefferson had trouble with it at Monticello. 

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where these days the local
belladonne are apt to have been smoking something. 


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