California bulbs in the deep South

Jane McGary
Sun, 25 Jul 2004 13:12:03 PDT
Elizabeth Leigh in Louisiana wrote,
"I am trying to grow California bulbs in the deep South.  I have tried 
before with poor results as I put them in a pot with regular soil.  This 
time, I have them in a large pot with well draining soil.  After they died 
back for the summer, I put a round bucket over the square planter for the 
summer.  So the only rain the planter gets is what gets in at the corners 
where ther circular bucket and square pot meet.  Should I cover it more 
completely?  Should I occassionally allow it to get summer rain?  When 
should I remove the bucket?"

First, not all California bulbs have the same intolerance for summer 
moisture. Some are much more adaptable than others. In particular, 
Triteleia, Brodiaea, and Bloomeria seem able to adapt to summer irrigation. 
Certain Calochortus species are more tolerant, too -- try C. albus, for 
example. Some California lilies are moisture-lovers, and some need a dry 
summer. See the details in "Bulbs of North America" (Timber Press, 2000) 
for specific habitats.

Second, a little occasional moisture does not spell death for most of these 
bulbs, as long as they have excellent drainage. A friend of mine who was a 
great bulb grower used discarded roofing shingles (asphalt type) over her 
outdoor bulb setup, which was made of flue tiles; this would be less 
visually obtrusive than a bucket, and the shingles are square.

Only experimentation with many species will tell you which can adapt to 
your climate, and sometimes this is quite a surprise, at least for me.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

More information about the pbs mailing list