two Zephyranthes notes

Brian Whyer
Fri, 11 Jul 2008 08:58:57 PDT
  Your comments make me think I may have abused a pot of young plants at some time. I did not realise it was a winter grower and spring flowerer. Will it take our wet winter conditions in the garden or only pot growing. Their are only 2 suppliers listed in the RHS Plant Finder; 1 a keen back garden grower, maybe both, as I don't know the other. There is no confusion with my other pots labelled atamasco(a) as they are all small flowered highly coloured pink or orange summer flowerers. Maybe it is like candida here, often a poor flowerer and not commonly grown.
  Brian Whyer, raining again.

Jim McKenney <> wrote:
  Brian, there are images posted on the wiki, some of cultivated material,
some of plants in the wild. They give a good impression of some of the
variation to be encountered in this species:…

The flowers are typically big for the genus; they look as if they should be
fragrant, and sometimes they are, but often they are not. As the blooms age,
they flush rose-pink or dull red. 

The only commonly grown species with which it is likely to be confused is Z.
candida: that species has much smaller flowers. But Zephyranthes is a big
genus with loads of hybrids - of which I've personally grown or seen very
few. More experienced growers might help by chiming in here. 

Two aspects of the growth habit of this species might help you distinguish
it from similar species. For one, it’s a winter grower here: the foliage
emerges in the fall and remains green throughout the winter. For another,
it blooms very early: it’s a winter or spring bloomer throughout much of its
natural range in contrast to the other commonly cultivated species which
bloom (here anyway) in mid-summer. 

After writing the above, I remembered something from my own garden which
illustrates just how microclimate-specific plant behavior can be. I wintered
the much less cold tolerant Zephyranthes grandiflora in my protected cold
frame. It kept lively foliage throughout the winter and did not become
dormant until I deliberately dried the pots in the frame. So, depending on
your conditions, the winter foliage characteristic might not be a big help. 

Zephyranthes atamasco is one of the real gems of our flora, and it surprises
me how few people know it. It was grown in England as early as the early
seventeenth century. Mrs. Wilder in the early twentieth century wrote
lovingly of the plants in the garden where she grew up near Baltimore,
Maryland. Yet I doubt if it is any better known in modern Maryland gardens
than it is in present-day England. Incidentally, as of sometime in the
1980s, when seemingly wild plants were found in far eastern Maryland, this
species is accepted by some as an element of the native flora of Maryland. 

Jim McKenney

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