years from seed to flower - 1

Jane McGary
Mon, 12 Aug 2002 09:24:54 PDT
This is purely subjective -- not compiled from reference to my database,
which needs updating desperately -- but here is what I would EXPECT of
seed-grown bulbs. About 2/3 of the c. 1100 species I grow were grown from

Crocus - 3-4 years
Fritillaria - 4-5 years 
Juno iris - 4-6 years
Scilla - 3 years
Ornithogalum - 3 years
Brodiaea (sensu lato) - 3 yrs
Allium - 3 yrs
Calochortus - 5-8 yrs
Alstroemeria - 3 yrs
Colchicum - 5-7 yrs (smaller ones faster)
Narcissus - 3-4 yrs
Cyclamen - 2-3 yrs
Leucojum - 3-4 yrs
Muscari - 3-4 yrs
Tulip - 5 yrs

Obviously there are outliers especially on the long side of these
estimates. Dutch growers are able to bring their bulbs to flowering faster
than this through skill in managing fertilizers and temperature.

Growing bulbs from seed is not a source of instant gratification, but I
truly believe that one ends up with healthier stock, even if purchased
bulbs are grown in the same collection. I routinely lose species tulips
bought as bulbs, but those I've grown from wild-collected seed have done
well for many years. I was also thrilled to see the healthiness of some
Iris reticulata corms I grew from wild seed, which flowered for the first
time this winter. I've purged all commercial Iris reticulata from the
collection now owing to disease problems.

Moreover, when you grow bulbs from seed, you usually end up with several
clones, and even in self-fertile genera this can improve seed set. This has
been especially evident in my fritillarias.

Jane McGary
NW Oregon

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