gerrit oskam
Sun, 26 Jan 2003 05:46:44 PST
Dear Peter, Cathy and All,

You might be interested in some Dutch experiences with growing Eremurus
At commercial Dutch nurseries Eremurus is usually grown on light sandy 
calcareous soils near the coast. These soils are porous and well drained 
but will be wet during winter. The water table is usually kept at 60 -70 cm 
below the surface of the fields.
  (Dutch winters are always wet and have become wetter than ever over the 
last years)
Minimum temperatures in this coastal area are rarely lower than minus 12 
degrees Celsius but most growers will give some cover with straw as they 
usually do with their bulbs.
The Ruiter hybrids have been named after the hybridizer/firm who bred them. 
These are seen in florist shops in June as a cut flower.
I have grown Eremurus robustus and E. himalaicus on a very heavy river clay 
for years. This soil could become very wet during winter but drainage was 
good. (no water standing on the surface of the soil). The "bulbs" survived 
occasional temperatures of minus 15 degr. Celsius without snow or straw 
cover while settled and planted at a depth of 10 cm (as did Dracunculus 
vulgaris much to my surprise but planted deeper).
Summerdrought is unpredictable here and summers can be wet. Temperatures 
are usually between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius with short periods up to 30 
When I moved E. robustus to a lighter and poorer soil they died out within 
a few years... (I should have feeded them) I do know of people complaining 
about Eremurus never "doing" on their  light sandy soils. Were I on such a 
soil I should certainly give them stable manure as a cover in winter 
eventually combined with some lime.
E. olgae has been growing for one season in my garden and then decided to 
leave me. I think this is a difficult one which needs a really dry rest and 
it doesn't like a long wet winter.
E. robustus is one of the most beautiful species and I think we are lucky 
that it is also the easiest for garden culture while originating from 
relatively damp habitats.
Key points for successful cultivation seem to me:
- fertile soil; Eremurus is a gross feeder
- a cold winter period of a certain length; this seems to me more important 
than summertemps.

Best, Gerrit Oskam,   Netherlands, zone 7-8 

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