Notholirion thomsonianum, was] Major excitement in the cold frame

Jane McGary
Thu, 16 Feb 2012 11:47:47 PST
Jim McKenney wrote,

"I was out in the cold frame area yesterday looking at my Notholirion 
thomsonianum: the cold frame is seriously overcrowded (the Arums have 
to go), and the Notholirion is planted right against one side of the 
frame so that it does not get much direct sun. I stood there 
wondering if it would ever bloom for me. Its foliage was partially 
hidden under the arum foliage, so I reached down to pull it out into 
the light. As I did so, I felt something firm and upright: there is 
an inflorescence on the way up!

>This puts me in a rather exclusive club: I doubt if many people have 
>flowered a Notholirion in eastern North America - or even kept one 
>going for six years. But I would trade that "exclusivity" in a 
>minute to be back in the "club" which annually received a package from Jane."

The club no longer exists, thanks to my move to a smaller place and 
retirement from the seasonal bulb distribution, but since Jim was in 
the habit of ordering one of almost everything, he ought to be pretty 
well supplied by now. Many of the items have been shared with Mark 
Akimoff of Illahe Nursery, who sent out his first summer bulb 
shipments in 2011 and will continue to increase the offerings.

As for Notholirion thomsonianum, it does best in full sun and needs a 
lot of room for its copious foliage and tall flowering stems. It is 
hardy outdoors to the upper teens Fahrenheit (about minus 6 C, 
perhaps), and perhaps colder. Like Cardiocrinum, it has a monocarpic 
bulb that disappears after flowering, but unlike Cardiocrinum, it 
makes very many offsets in hard tunics, and probably will do so even 
if abused like Jim's plant. Flowering is encouraged by keeping it 
fairly dry in summer. This is a bulb from the dry part of the 
Himalaya region. The flowers, up to 15 or so on a good scape, are 
large, narrowly funnel-shaped and an unusual lavender-buff color. 
They are sweetly fragrant. Somebody donated, or tried to donate, it 
to the NARGS seed exchange this past fall and it came up in the batch 
I was packaging, but it was only chaff and had to be discarded. I 
have, however, grown it from exchange seed, but now depend on the 
hundreds of bulbils one finds tucked into the larger bulbs' tunics. 
By now I have flowers most years from a succession of bulbs of 
different ages. I just have it in the bulb house now, free in a 
raised bed, but have also grown it in the open garden in rock and sand.

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

More information about the pbs mailing list