Calochortus notes

Nhu Nguyen
Tue, 25 Jun 2013 22:44:28 PDT
On Sun, Jun 2, 2013 at 12:31 PM, Jane McGary <> wrote:
> The most interesting genus, however, is Calochortus.

Thank you, Jane for this very nice post about the Calochortus species
in which you are growing. I am also a fan of Calochortus and I'm
slowly learning to cultivate them in my climate. Years ago there was a
Calochortus society and I could have learned lots it if I were
involved in the bulb world then.

I focus on species that grow well here in the Bay Area, and luckily,
my favorite group, the fairly lanterns grow around this area. The
reason I haven't expanded is because of climate. I find that
Calochortus are very difficult to grow in Berkeley. Our winters are
just a bit too cold (-2 to -3C) for them and they get too wet. The
combination of cold and wet causes a lot of fungal disease. Rotting of
the leaves typically slow down the bulb's health and eventually even
the bulbs themselves rot away.

When I first started growing bulbs I ordered a bunch from Diana but I
did not know how to take care of them and they all eventually dwindled
and rotted away, except for a few very tough ones like C. catalinae
and C. venustus.

I now grow them in tall band pots so they have good root-room and can
go deep, but because the pots are too tall, they did not dry out
properly. As I found out the hard way, Calochortus bulbs should be
dried out completely otherwise they are prone to rotting. That's how I
lost my nice pot of C. amoenus, which now only photos exist
For some of the more sensitive species, I typically unpot them and
allow them to dry out for the summer. I should do this for all the
species but so many other bulbs beckon to be repotted in summer.

Last summer I decided that they should be treated more like Western
Cape bulbs so I moved all of them into pumice (75% pumice, 25% Super
Soil). What a wonder that did to them! The bulbs were so happy this
winter and with frequent fertilizers, they grew very strong and
healthy. Here's a photo of the best blooming of C. pulchellus yet.…
Sadly, soon after the photos were taken, a juvenile rat decided to go
exploring and chewed off the inflorescence. I'm pretty sure I got it
back in the end.


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