Hymenocallis Growing

J.E. Shields jshields104@insightbb.com
Sat, 22 Apr 2006 14:44:40 PDT
Hi all,

The past few weeks, we have had blooms in the greenhouse on two groups of 
Hymenocallis liriosme.  One has huge flowers, 2.5 inch wide cups and 9 
inches across, tip to tip, on the tepals.  Thad Howard collected that one 
for me in Texas several years ago.

The other liriosme originated in a river in Louisiana, but spent several 
years on a mountain top in Arkansas before making their way into my 
collection.  These are noticeably smaller plants -- and flowers -- than 
Thad's plants.

Hymenocallis occidentalis occurs in nature as far north as southernmost 
Indiana and southern Illinois, although I've not seen it in the wild.  It 
is quite similar to H. liriosme, and makes a very handsome plant in leaf 
and in bloom.  Unlike liriosme, which blooms in early Spring, the 
occidentalis bloom in late summer.  For me at least their bloom periods 
never overlap.

A few years ago, I moved almost all my potted bulbs of H. occidentalis 
outdoors into the garden.  They were surviving but not really doing well in 
the pots.   I had accessions of occidentalis from several different States 
in that collection, but unfortunately not all of them made it in the garden.

The ones that did best were my #1141, plants which originated in Arkansas 
but spent the past ca. 100 years growing on a farm in southern Indiana.  I 
suspect they have undergone some selection for adaptation to the Indiana 
climate over that century.

A plant from the boot heel of Missouri disappeared completely.

Plants from Tennessee fared as badly, for reasons that I can't figure 
out.  I'll have to keep these in pots from now on (my generous friend in 
Tennessee sent me a couple replacement bulbs.)

Bulbs that came from Gene Bush in southern Indiana, but that he apparently 
did not originate, were planted outdoors in the ground when first 
received.  They have done very well, coming up every year and blooming 
every summer.  My only complaint would be that they have not divided at 
all.  I see no sign of offsets.  However, they set abundant seed every 
summer, if hand pollinated.

Two bulbs from We-Do nursery in North Carolina were also planted 
outdoors.  One still survives, but has not bloomed the last couple 
summers.  The one that went missing may have been the victim of 
over-zealous summer garden employees' weeding.

Hymenocallis occidentalis is a much-overlooked hardy bulb for moderate 
northern climates.  They bloom in August as a rule.  At Chicago and more 
northern latitudes, they might survive outdoors in the ground, but I'm told 
they do not bloom.  Further north, try growing them in a large pot and 
store them in winter in the basement.  They want a little water 
occasionally even in winter; otherwise, keep them cool and on the dry side 
in winter.  Move the pot outdoors into light shade when mild weather 
returns; feed and water generously in summer.

I have a web page on Hymenocallis 
at:  http://shieldsgardens.com/amaryllids/…  and it 
includes a picture of H. occidentalis in bloom.

Now I'm trying to see if I can get seeds from crossing Hymenocallis 
liriosme X H. occidentalis.  Will I get the hybrids?  Will they be hardy 
here in Indiana?  Will they bloom in June or July, rather than in April or 
August?  We'll probably just have to wait to see.

Jim Shields
in central Indiana (USA)

Jim Shields             USDA Zone 5             Shields Gardens, Ltd.
P.O. Box 92              WWW:    http://www.shieldsgardens.com/
Westfield, Indiana 46074, USA
Tel. ++1-317-867-3344     or      toll-free 1-866-449-3344 in USA

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