Crinum Season and hardiness... again

James Waddick
Fri, 05 Jul 2013 09:20:09 PDT
Dear PBSers,

	Well Crinum season is serious now in Kansas City. Although a few have peaked, the first of the C. x powellii are opening. And C. bulbispermum 'Jumbo' seedlings are at peak. The big show has been 'annonced' by the appearance of the first spikes (nearly 5 ft tall ) on 'Super Ellen'.

	C. x powellii is the most available and probably hardiest we have grown in Zone 5 and now Zone 6 (we haven't moved, the zones have). The typical cheap and available in garden center bags is one we do not recommend and have mostly gotten rid of except for 2 large clumps we are too lazy to dig out. These have had NO winter protection for a few years and bloom reliably even this year after last year's 10 months of drought. They are planted deep - a foot or more to the base of the bulbs. I am sure this gives them added hardiness, but also slows down the eager production of pups. It is sterile so no seeds have been seen.

	C. bulbispermum 'Jumbo' is a seed strain from Les Hannibal via Marcell Sheppard. They too get no added protection, but are planted deeply. Although they are slow to pup, they do eventually. Very distinct in form, foliage and flower they produce abundant seed. We have yet to have a seedling survive on its own, but it may be the easiest Crinum to grow from seed and I have donated hundreds of seed to PBS and many others. There are a range of colors and none are 'dogs'.

	'C. 'Super Ellen' is a cross between 'Ellen Bousanquet' (which barely survives here and blooms infrequently) and C. bulbispermum. I mention this one hybrid in particular because it is such a garden star. Foliage gets to 7 feet or longer, flower spikes can tower at 6 ft and rich red flowers are produced in abundance. Slow to pup it does eventually form a huge mass with a knock out display. Highly recommend for a bold garden statement, but needs room.

	These are just a few of the Crinums we grow - some are very nice in bloom. others stingier to flower, I'd like to ask for more input about the next 2 crinums:

	C. x herbertii . This is a large number of named and nameless plants derived from crosses between C. scabrum and C. bulbispermum. The former has not proven garden worthy here. It survives, but has bloomed very infrequently. I have been corresponding with a Crinum friend in the S. E. who tells me some clones are hardy into Nebraska which is well north of me. No details about winter care, but I have never tried plants with this parentage. 'Ellen Bousanquet' is 1/2 C. scabrum and it is not a garden plant here either. 

	So I have not had great success with Crinums with C. scabrum in its parentage, but wonder if any specific x. herbertii cvs are reliably hardy, bloom well and make a garden statement. Anyone have success with C. herbertii in Zone 5 or 6? Any one grow 'Cape Dawn' or 'Carnival'?

	C. variable. Fellow PBSer Jim Shield has had great success with this species in Indiana, a slightly milder climate.  In IN this is hardy and self sows in his garden. A couple of years ago, Jim offered seed through the PBS BX and I grew some seedling. At 1 year of age I planted a few in the garden last spring. Then 10 months of drought hit and the plants withered away. I gave up and gave them no special attention and NO winter protection.  I was shocked to see all, but one emerged looking just fine and they are growing merrily this wetter year. I have great anticipation for there success.

	In talking about this with Jim S. he also mentioned he has hybrids between C. variable x C. bulbispermum. This really perked up my ears. These hybrids bloom readily and produce fertile F2 seedlings. Some of these selections are being tested for naming and introduction. Exciting news indeed for northern Crinum growers.

	So what other potentially hardy crinums are waiting out there?  We have at least a dozen named forms and more species and seedlings. Obviouly we need more. Suggestions and experience.?			Thanks		Jim W. 

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