Crinum in MO - replies

James Waddick
Fri, 04 Jun 2010 17:17:26 PDT
Dear Friends,
	I am so glad to see that I might have encouraged some 
adventurous gardens in the northern zonesto give Crinum a try.

	More than 15 yrs ago I read that Crinum were hardy in Zone 7 
or 8 and farther south. At a spring garden show one nursery was 
selling their bagged crinum half price on the last day of the show so 
I bought a "pink Crinum' for about $5 (half price). A pitiful bulbs 
about 2 inch in diameter and crammed into a plastic bag.

	It just looked like it was something to plant deep so we did 
and it grew and bloomed next to a stone walk with almost no 
protection in an inner city Kansas City garden.  We eventually found 
out it was Crinum x powellii.  In our current garden in the 
sub-suburbs - fairly rural - we grow maybe a dozen cvs and species in 
a couple locations well away from the house,

	As I said in the earlier note  C. x powellii and C. 
bulbispermum are still the best for hardiness. They have been in the 
current garden for 15 years or so.

	When we dug the original C. x powellii from the old garden we 
found the base of the bulb had moved down to about 18 inches below 
soil level.  A few years ago we dug and donated dozens of large to 
vary large C x powelli to the PBS Exchange and these were up to 15 
inches deep and weighed in by the pound. I recall shipping was over 
$20 on a couple of these.

	C. x powelli is very hardy and needs no winter protection 
here. It can be planted deep - a foot or more and it pups with 
fervor, but sets essentially no seed. After all these years I do have 
a seedling I am growing from last year. Plants are readily available 
in the trade, cheap and should be the first one tried. Plant in full 
sun, in good drainage and water well.  It loves our heat and humidity.

	C. bulbispermum is one of the parents of the hybrid x 
powellii and is very different. It rarely produces pups, but produces 
abundant seed and is easily grown from seed. I am sure I have donated 
hundreds of seed to the BX. Seed are large and green and germinate 
readily. Seedlings need protection the first year or two, but by then 
they are 12 - 20 inches tall from the base of the bulb and can be 
planted out. These too have proven totally hardy. My plants range in 
color from near red to pink to striped and white. All lovely.

	I got my first seed from Marcelle Sheppard 
( in TX.  I bought seed of Hannibal's 
'Jumbo' selected by Marcelle. I still have these bulbs blooming now. 
Marcelle sells good plants at a good price. I recommend her nursery.

	I have tried a variety of other crinums and have had passing 
luck with C. scabrum and 'Ellen Bousanquet'. Both are now history. 
'Cecil Houdyshel', 'Catherine' and powellii alba  have been 
resounding success. The star of the crinum bed is 'Super Ellen' a 
back cross of "Ellen Bousanquet' to C. bulbispermum. ' Super Ellen' 
has tall flower spikes (to 6 feet) in deep rich red/pink. Each bulb 
produces 3 or 4 of these spike in succession over a few weeks time. 
Really 'super'.

	I should note C. powellii is somewhat disappointing in one 
small way. Although it flowers abundantly, grows lushly, gets 
enormous etc etc, the flowers do not open fully and often looked just 
'cramped'. Powellii alba has all the same qualities, but flowers open 
fully , pure white and dazzling.

	David, I'm not sure what does well in your specific climate, 
but here they revel in summer heat ( 94 degrees today!).  Perhaps 
someone with experience closer to him can reply.

	Adam, mine are NOT close to any foundation. A few years ago I 
tried an experiment and planted 3 round beds in the middle of the 
lawn. They get no care, I just mow around them.  They are all huge 
and wonderful, but I eventually mowed one down as it was in an 
inconvenient spot.

	Jonathan, I'd plant a small bulb a foot deep , maybe a bit 
less.  We did mulch them with dry oak leaves heaped to cover them and 
then non-woven covering to keep the leaves from blowing off, but 
after a few years we got lazy. Some years we protect them with raked 
up leaves, but once they are settled in they get little protection. 
roble is that in spring you have to remove mulch, clean up and it 
gets messy.

	I am not surprised Crinodonna would die there, but 'Super 
Ellen' is much hardier. Mine are in full sun - no north side of the 

	Mark, I've never tried Agapanthus  in the ground here. I here 
it could be hardy and Aaron Floden I think grew some. Aaron ? I have 
a couple bulbs from him and I suppose it is time to put them to the 

	I urge Zone 5- 6 gardens with a full sun spot to try at least 
Crinum x powellii alba. It is a bit more than the typical form, but a 
much better plant. I assume I'll have plenty of C. bulbispermum 
'Jumbo' seeds to donate to the exchange in a month or so. They are 
always abundant.

	Mostly try these if you haven't and give them plenty of room. 
	Good growing.	Jim W.
Dr. James W. Waddick
8871 NW Brostrom Rd.
Kansas City Missouri 64152-2711
Ph.    816-746-1949
Zone 5 Record low -23F
	Summer 100F +

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