Fritillaria striata

Jane McGary
Mon, 16 Oct 2006 10:19:29 PDT
Alex asked,
>I have managed to acquire a bulb of Frit.
>striata, and wonder if there is any special
>requirement this species has? I have planted it in a
>sandy/gritty loam and have started to water it, which
>is much the same way I cultivate F. liliacea with
>reasonable success.

These two species have very similar growth behavior, with the foliage 
emerging in midwinter and the flowers following after the leaves are fully 
developed. I grow both in an unheated bulb frame, where they probably 
survive temperatures lower than anything Alex's plants will encounter. I 
cover the plants when the outdoor temperature is expected to dip below 
about 24 F (minus 4 C) to avoid the foliage freezing and becoming 
vulnerable to pathogens. After very cold temperatures, the flower stems may 
emerge distorted, but the plants are normal the next year. F. striata 
flowers here in early February, and F. liliacea about 3 weeks later. I 
still have my original bulbs of both, grown from seed in the early 1990s, 
and many of their descendants. I've heard that F. striata does not set seed 
in England, but it does here without hand pollination, and I find this seed 
is welcome in exchanges.

For those not familiar with F. striata, it comes from southern California. 
The flowers, usually 3 to 5 per stem, are pendent, white with stippled 
stripes of gray to pink on the exterior, and large relative to the size of 
the scape. The tepals are strongly recurved just at the tips, and the 
entire flower narrowly cunnel-shaped. They are very sweetly fragrant, too, 
so the whole effect is of a miniature Madonna lily. It flowers from seed in 
about 4 years.

I think the difficulty some growers in the UK have with this species is 
that, grown that far north, it doesn't obtain the high light levels it 
needs during its winter growth period. This can cause the scape to elongate 
and flop over, and the buds to "go blind." One supposes that in the long 
term, it will also weaken the bulb. If Alex can supplement with artificial 
light during midwinter, he may get it to behave more in character.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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