Thu, 11 Feb 2010 03:26:55 PST
In response to Diane's inquiry about Nomocharis. 

Apart from N. basilissa all other taxa are growing here in the international ex situ conservation collection of Lilies and it is best to treat these lilies as you would Alpines including some of your high elevation Lilium from the Pacific mountain ranges. Nomocharis require PERFECT drainage but must have access to damp conditions well below bulb levels but accessible to the root systems which can be quite extensive. Soil pH here is in the region of 4.5 to 5.5 and generally Nomocharis have proven to be well suited to Scottish conditions which do not include calcareous soils, that said some of the derivative rock formations in the restricted regions of China, Tibet and Burma are limestone there is no free lime available, witness the vast array of Rhododendron taxa which grow through out that part of Asia. 

When sowing the seed here I do so in damp fine grade vermiculite soaked for a few hours then squeezed hard to expel any surplus moisture immediately after it is put into a clear = see-through polythene bag, the seed are then mixed with the vermiculite, the bad loosely turned or wrapped over with a rubber band optional to hold everything in place. The next stage is one of two options, both I ahve found more or less equally suited to growing any kind of liliaceous seeds, the vermiculite in the bag can be put into an open topped container, plastic or otherwise and set down on the window ledge e.g. in my office, or the came be turned out mixed up in their vermiculite into any ordinary kind of small plastic food container and the top sealed down tight. After 2 -3 weeks max signs of germination should be evident. I keep mine in those conditions until they are bumping their heads against the lid or bag sides after which they are gently opened out and left to grow on vertically under the same conditions. Maintaining moisture levels in the vermiculite at a constant is critical but one way to do this is to stick the container or put if transferred into one indeed a large clear plastic bag with a stick to hold the plastic clear of the contents, in effect a mini greenhouse with a closed humidity but sooner than later it is advisable not to force them too much and allow free air movement in order to avoid grey mould developing. pricking out in the autumn seems the best time to do so but if enormous care can be taken and avoid damage to the rootlets amongst themselves and the vermiculite one can try to prick them out earlier. 

Vermiculite obviously doesn't have any nutritional value therefore after a couple of weeks post germination I feed Lily seedlings with a very, very, very, very, very, week mixture of liquid feed using water which is off the chill, here our water which is effectively snow melt is almost always really cold so I try to take the 'bite' off it before watering the seedlings. They may be mountain plants but I assume the shock from ice cold water is not wanted. Nomocharis are mountain plants, almost all distributed either at the scrub line or above it growing on pretty steep ground where soil moisture is aerobic and always on the move down hill but atmospheric humidity is invariable fairly high up amongst the clouds at the eastern end of the Himalaya and adjacent ranges. Arid does not work for Nomocharis nor does high summer temperatures all of which might explain why we get away with growing them here between 56 - 58 degrees North in a maritime and semi-maritime climate. Low temperatures during the winter are no problem for Nomocharis as they are often under several metres of snow at the critical period. Fabulous looking lilies for sure and coming as they do from a relatively small geographical region it should come as no surprise to learn that given the chance their sexual habits border on the reckless amongst themselves however as far as I am aware there have so far never been any hybrids produced with lilies from other sections. In the monograph I am subsuming the genus Nomocharis under that of Lilium and treated the remaining 5 ? taxa as Lilium species. Cladastic studies, at least two, have shown that the boot strap values associated with and amongst Nomocharis and Lilium indicate incredibly close relationships, in several instances closer than amongst lilies in other readily accepted sections of the genus Lilium.

I hope this helps, if climatic conditions favour these lilies they will provide their growers with extraordinary pleasure but I suspect central and southern California will not be suitable for them without great efforts, and costs, to modify conditions. Have a go anyway Diane, BC and Washington State may well be suitable areas for them.
 If your conditions can grow LL. nanum, euxanthum, henrici, nepalense, souliei, oxypetalum and the like then you should be able to do Nomocharis they are certainly worth the effort.

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