Coping with Cold

James Waddick
Tue, 01 Apr 2003 08:08:46 PST
Dear all;
	Been wanting to jump in on this since I sure qualify for a 
cold climate.
	I am more aware of the relative hardiness of unexpected bulbs.
	I'll start with Lycoris because it is a favorite. L. 
squamigera is a common bulb around the area seen in old gardeners and 
in clumps lining the sidewalk planted by ghosts of previous owners. 
13 years ago I started acquiring many new species from China, but 
soon found 'the literature' rated most of these as far too mild for 
my climate. Understanding their growing needs soon convinced (by 
example) that almost every species and cv flourished here. As Jim S. 
mentioned L. chinensis, L. sprengeri and l. longituba are absolute 
stars of the fall garden. These are as good or better than the old 
standby L. squamigera and makes me seriously wonder what plotting 
conspirators kept these out of the garden. Another dozen hybrids are 
also great and even selected L. radiata do just great too. I think 
the answer is all in timing. These bulbs do best when dug and planted 
on their schedule -not the Dutch bulb conglomerates. Extensive drying 
cause them serious harm and they fail. I have about 30 differnt forms.

	Crinums are another group that surprised me. I tentative 
tried a single C. x powellii even longer ago and found in grew and 
multiplied and got huge. I have since tried another dozen or so sp 
and hybrids very selectively and had excellent results with some 
being even hardier and certainly better blooms that just X powellii. 
The only problem here is they do get large and digging and dividing 
is a major chore. They do demand more work than most bulbs due to 
their mass. My favorite is 'Catherine'

	A few years ago I built a raised rock wall using native soil 
amended with a bottom layer of rock and added sand and gravel. Then a 
3 foot deep raised bed of pure sand really hit the nail. I found I 
could grow certain hardy bulbs enormously better. Juno iris did OK in 
the garden beds, but on the raised rock wall a single Juno magnifica 
went from 1 to 18 bulbs in 3 or 4 years. Most Junos bulk up rapidly 
when they existed in the past and now they are spreading out to 
engulf smaller plants. Oncocyclus iris are also rushing along. I 
simply could not get Iris sari to survive, but a single rhizome with 
2 fans went to nearly 30 fans in 3 years and is merrily creeping 
along. Iris arenaria - the Sand Iris- went from a 2 inch pot into my 
pure sand bed to cover maybe 5 times the area in one full year.

	Even Anthericum -very touchy here- is making a husky clump. 
Non bulbous plants such as Helianthumum (non growable here elsewhere) 
Paeonia brownii, barrel Cactus and others perform beautifully. Sedum, 
Orostachys and Sempervivum all do fine and even the common Lewisia 
cotyledon actually survives and enlarges in pure sand.

	All are in full sun and exposed to winter cold and summer 
drought and infrequent rains.

	Of course I also site things suitably to grow the palm 
Rhapidophyllum, Musa basjoo, Figs and others. This year Hipp x 
johnsonii gos into the ground for trial. Of course things such as 
Sauromatum and Amorphophallus konjac are usually survivors.

	Won't dwell on expected Daffs, tulips, scilla, I reticulata, 
anemones (covering a small hillside now (WOW). I have gotten onto an 
Arum interest and find most are hardy here (italicum and maculatum 
for years) (about 12-15 sp now). Thinking daffs were untouchable 
changed last year when a freak very late, very hard freeze froze 
flower stems and foliage of about 100 'Gigantic Star'(and others) to 
withered black. This was the first time this ever happened and I 
feared the worse. A year later most 'frozen' bulbs have 3 to 8 
flowers per bulb and putting on a glorious show without hints of last 
years damages. These bulbs had zero chance to have foliage naturally 
wither and store energy.

	I always try more and 'push' tender species. Drainage is 
essential and even things that 'bake' in summer tend to live far 
below ground under a 'crust that forms in the clay keeping them 
cooler and moister than you might expect.

	As Jan McGary will attest, I have been moaning my trial and 
error ways with Frits. and I aspire to a hillside of F. imperialis. 
Just shows there is always another challenge.

	Last word on Ipheion- all cvs including the wonderful 
'Alberto Castillo' (and so-so Charlotte Bishop) are firmly hardy. 
Fall foliage lags, but then redoes itself and bloom marvelously, but 
there is very little spread or reseeding (is this a bad thing?).

	Any suggestions for unexpectedly hardy bulbous additions?

		Best	Jim W.
Dr. James W. Waddick
8871 NW Brostrom Rd.
Kansas City Missouri 64152-2711
Ph.    816-746-1949
E-fax  419-781-8594

Zone 5 Record low -23F
	Summer 100F +

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