American Fritillaria
Tue, 05 Sep 2006 22:15:24 PDT
On 4 Sep 06, at 21:22, Paul Cumbleton wrote:

> ... cultivating the American Fritillaria, especially pot
> cultivation under glass... comments on the following would be
> most welcome: 
> Watering - approximately when should you start in the fall? (We
> usually give their first drink around the start of October, depending
> on temperatures at the time) Dormancy - do you keep totally dry or
> slightly moist? Hardiness - are all truly hardy or should any be kept
> frost-free? Compost - are any fussy about pH, and do any require
> something other than the usual types of free-draining bulb composts?
> Light - do you grow in full sun or do any require a bit of shade?
> Feeding - comments??? (more a bag of worms than the other topics!!)
> Any other hints and tips?
> A good discussion on this would be most welcome

I can't offer you a reply based on much success, but let me mention 
the natural growing conditions of the three species native to British 

F. camschatensis: this is a moisture lover. I have seen it growing in 
a site that floods during winter high water, under a canopy primarily 
of Acer macrophyllum, Symphoricarpos (iirc), and various conifers. 
For pot cultivation, I'd say the pot should sit in a shallow saucer 
of water and be assiduously protected from solar overheating. Soil 
probably fairly acidic, but not peaty -- a nice clayish alluvium. 
Definitely not "free draining"! I suspect the soil is fairly fertile, 
being bottomland.

F. affinis: a summer drought lover. I've seen it growing in shallow 
soil on a grassy rock eyot at the (saltwater) shoreline of Becher 
Bay, BC. The site is very dry in from June well into September. 
Morning fogs often occur after the beginning of August, but 
significant rainfall may be non-existent until mid-October and really 
heavy rainfall often doesn't take place until December. The soil is 
so shallow and the site so humid, being adjacent to saltwater, that 
morning dews may (n.b. *may*) gradually raise the soil moisture level 
in late summer. But I would guess that it comes into active growth 
more in response to the gradual cooling of the soil that occurs after 
mid-July as the days shorten and the sun drops in the sky. Soil 
probably acidic and of low fertility, all soluble nutrients being 
leached away by heavy winter rains.

In other sites, I've noticed that it shies away from brilliantly 
sunny locations, prefering dry summer shade under deciduous canopy.

F. pudica: this is native to the Okanagan area of British Columbia: a 
very hot, very dry area where all herbaceous vegetation is burnt to a 
crisp by the sun in summer. I have the impression that it prefers a 
fairly alkaline soil, but I can't quote my source. I have never 
succeeded in keeping it alive for more than a year or two.

You mention "free draining" soil, which I take to mean a fairly 
friable mix. The two species I know in the wild both grow in a soil 
that I would call, for lack of a better word, "tight" and I think you 
will find that this is the case with many other fritillaries native 
to the Pacific Slope.

Hope this helps.

Rodger Whitlock
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Maritime Zone 8, a cool Mediterranean climate

on beautiful Vancouver Island

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