intro + Brodiaeoid questions

John Wickham
Sun, 08 Apr 2012 22:59:15 PDT
I manage the bulb collection at the Theodore Payne Foundation in Los Angeles. Our first couple of years, we had a great deal of trouble with ground squirrels getting into our growing yard. They were very intent, even bending wire mesh with the heads to pry open a gap to crawl through. They ate Calochortus first, then went through everything else, including Zigadenus! The only bulbs they really didn't like (though they dug through them to taste every one) were the Triteleias. 

Part of the problem with bulbs in pots is that they're probably better watered, have better soil (more nutrients), and maybe even get some they're more plump and tasty to the critters. 

We have some Triteleia growing in the TPF grounds...and they aren't eaten. I also have some Brodiaea californica growing in the ground. They were caged before planting and they've done fine over time.

Has anyone tried using crushed oyster shells in the planting hole as a deterrent to digging critters? I read somewhere that this helps, but haven't tried it myself. 

--- On Sun, 4/8/12, Michael Mace <> wrote:

From: Michael Mace <>
Subject: Re: [pbs] intro + Brodiaeoid questions
Date: Sunday, April 8, 2012, 10:16 PM

Ben wrote:

>> I wanted to ask about your experiences growing CA bulbs, particularly
Brodiaea, Triteleia, Dichelostemma, Calochortus, Allium and others. I'm
curious about predation from ground rodents, and to a lesser extent, deer
resistance or lack thereof!

Welcome, Ben!

I live about an hour south of you, in San Jose.  The gophers and rats/mice
here eat bulbs eagerly, so long ago I got into the habit of growing
everything in pots, with half-inch mesh chicken wire buried under the top
half-inch of the soil.  But the heaviest attacks are on my South African
bulbs.  The Californians don't seem to be hunted as eagerly.  

A friend and fellow list member, Bob Werra, has a large collection of
Calochortus in Ukiah, CA (for those of you who don't know California, that
is an inland town a couple of hours north of San Francisco; think hot dry
summers and cool winters but not heavy freezes).  Bob had his Calochortus in
pots for years, but recently he planted all of the Calochortus into the
ground on a south-facing slope.  He lives in an area where C. amabilis grows
wild, and is regularly eaten down by the deer.  But his collection,
including a lot of the Mariposa group, is protected by a deer fence and grew
extremely well in the ground.   I saw the spot in summer, and there were
still a lot of seed pods on the dried flower stems, a sign of happy

Are you coming to the PBS meeting in Berkeley later this month?  We could
compare notes there...

San Jose, CA
(zone 9, min temp 20F / -7C)

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