Growing native bulbs in the Bay Area

Mary Sue Ittner
Thu, 19 Jul 2012 08:04:03 PDT

Welcome Michelle to our list. I was hoping more people would respond 
to your question about growing native bulbs in the Bay Area 
(California) as we do have a number of people on our list who live there.

Mike Mace gave you some excellent resources and advice. He left out 
Lilium in his list. I live on the coast north of the Bay Area and 
have found the two Lilium species that grow where I live to be good 
species for growing in the ground. Trillium ovatum, Scoliopus 
bigelovii, Iris douglasiana, Maianthemum stellatum, Toxicoscordion 
fremontii, and Chlorogalum pomeridianum also do well for me in the 
ground and they all grow where I live. The Scoliopus needs occasional 
summer water as it usually grows in wet places and if Chlorogalum is 
planted where the deer can't get it, you have to be careful not to 
let it go to seed or you will have colonies. I have a lot of shade in 
my garden and although I grow a lot of natives, many of them I've 
planted out in the ground have disappeared and I expect they need 
more light. So I grow a lot of those natives (Brodiaea, 
Dichelostemma, Triteleia, Bloomeria) in deep containers where I can 
move them where there is sun when in growth and into the shade in the 
summer. I also grow them in pots in pots in raised beds. Triteleia 
laxa does very well planted directly in the ground and can tolerate 
shade. Many of those offset to various degrees so like Mike said, 
once you have them growing in pots you can experiment with finding 
places in your garden to try them. It is probably wise to start with 
Bay Area species but that still gives you a lot of choices (see 
below). Even though two species of Allium grow where I live I've not 
had much luck growing them in the ground for some reason although 
they do well in pots. And I've tried Camassia quamash that grows not 
far from where I live and it is gone as well, but it grows in an 
almost marshy area and the soils in my garden dry out much more. Also 
I have poor luck with Calochortus in the ground although I do try off 
and on. Some of them grow where I live, but those species still do 
better in pots. Bob Werra who lives in my county but in a dryer, 
hotter in summer, colder in winter spot, has success with Calochortus 
growing in the ground so a lot depends on your conditions.

Tilden Regional Park is a good place to go to check out what they are 
growing successfully.…
I suspect as Nhu keeps adding species to the wiki the number of 
plants pictured on this page will be much longer. He hasn't made it 
through the alphabet yet and I have some photos to add as well.

  Here are some Bay Area species listed in Plants of the San 
Francisco Bay Region. I've changed the names of the ones I know have 
been changed, but may have missed some. When I started, I didn't 
realize I was going to have such a long list: Trillium ovatum, 
Trilliums chloropetalum, Trillium albidum,  Maianthemum dilatatum, 
Maianthemum racemosum, Maianthemum stellatum, Disporum hookeri, D. 
smithii, Scoliopus bigelovii, Clintonia andrewsiana, Mulla maritima, 
Erythronium helenae, Erythronium californicum, Chlorogalum 
pomeridianum, Camassia quamash, Odontostumum hartwegii, 
Toxicoscordion fremontii, Toxicoscordion venenosus, Toxicoscordion 
micranthus, Lilium rubescens, Lilium pardalinum, Fritillaria recurva, 
Fritillaria affinis, Fritillaria eastwoodiae, F. purdyi, F. purdyi, 
R. liliacea, F. agrestis, Calochortus albus, C. amabilis, C. 
pulchellus, C. raichei, C. luteus, C. superbus, C. tiburonensis, C. 
tolmiei, C. umbellatus, C. invenustus, C. uniflorus, C. 
splendens,  C. venustus, C. vestae, Allium cratericola, A. 
falcifolium, A. unifolium, A. amplectens, A. campanulatum, A. 
fimbriatum, A. lacunosum, A. acuminatum, A. bolanderi, A. crispum, A. 
serra, A. peninsulare, A. dichlamydeum, Sisyrinchium bellum, 
Sisyrinchium alifornicum, Iris purdyi, Iris douglasiana, I. 
longipetala, Iris fernaldii, Iris macrosiphon, Dichelostemma 
volubile, D. capitatum, D. multiflorum, D. congestum, Triteleia 
ixioides, T. lugens, T. hyacinthina, T. peduncularis, T. laxa, 
Brodiaea stellaris, B. terrestris, B. elegans, B. appendiculata, B. coronaria

Deer eat a lot of these as do gophers. I'm suspecting chipmunks wiped 
out my Calochortus flowers this year. Squirrels and rabbits and other 
rodents are not good bulb companions. A friend found the deer didn't 
bother her Alliums in the ground and they did well for a number of 
years, but I haven't seen them lately.

Learning about where these species grow will help you decide which 
ones you might succeed in growing. I'd like to suggest a very 
excellent book, Wild Lilies, Irises and Grasses: Gardening with 
California Monocots that describes some of the easier species to grow.…

I hope this helps.

Mary Sue

Mary Sue Ittner
California's North Coast
Wet mild winters with occasional frost
Dry mild summers  

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