seed-grown calochortus

Jane McGary
Sun, 15 Dec 2002 10:59:30 PST
I don't have all the species that Diane mentioned were shown on Audrey's
website -- I'm missing caeruleus, chihuahuensis, dunnii, flexuosus,
macrocarpus, minimus,  panamintensis, and umbellatus of those cited. I do
have a few not mentioned on the previous list. I have never managed to
germinate seed of C. macrocarpus, even what I collected myself in the wild,
so I drive over the mountains and enjoy it in the wild. Most were grown
from seed from private collectors' lists, especially Ron Ratko's Northwest
Native Seeds and the Archibands' seed. 

I plant the seed as early as I can and bring it into a frost-free plant
room when it germinates. Usually I pot the seedlings on the first summer,
though this is sometimes not recommended. Last spring, Ron Ratko kindly
sent me some seed of previous years that he thought was "past its pull
date," and I held it until fall, then planted it; some is germinating very
well and I suspect it all will eventually.

I've tried a few species in the open garden, but they all either got eaten
by rodents or dwindled away, I assume because of wet cold conditions. Now
they are all in the bulb frames, where they flower regularly and set plenty
of seed (see the NARGS Seed Exchange for a good sampling this year). I have
placed some C. uniflorus, the closest to a native species, in the rock
garden this fall where I hope the voles won't penetrate. C. subalpinus
grows quite near here, too, but at a much higher elevation where it is
under snow all winter. I think I put some C. albus out too, or if not will
do so next summer. C. tolmiei has struggled through a couple of winters but
eventually disappeared. I'm pretty sure the problem is not temperature but
excessive moisture in early winter.

Once they start blooming, they seem to do so every year. I think that at
least some of them do not want to be dried out really severely in summer.
For example, C. amoenus, a two-tone rose-pink that is one of my favorites,
responded very well after being repotted into soil that was, I thought,
much too moist owing to a wet July.

As for time to flowering, I think the average is four years, but some have
taken six here. You can gain a year, once you have stock, by propagating
the little stem bulbils formed by many species; when removing dried stems,
examine them carefully near the base to make sure you're not throwing these

Jane McGary
Northwest Oregon, USA

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