Sat, 25 Jan 2003 16:11:55 PST
In a message dated 25-Jan-03 3:14:02 PM Pacific Standard Time, writes:

> I found a nursery in the western states that grows Eremurus for the cut 
> flower trade.  The dry winters are the key I think as with many central 
> Asian bulbs.
There is a nursery within a few miles of Portland that grows several acres of 
Eremurus for the cut flower trade.  As I recall, the land is on a slight 
grade so drainage wouldn't be a problem.  Bear in mind, however, it rains 
almost every day in the North end of the Willamette Valley from early 
November to late March and the soil can get quite wet.  Although, at the same 
time, air temperatures are in the low 40s F to near (or below) freezing at 

While I tried these plants twice in sandy soil in Minnesota (easily colder 
and snowier in Winter than Afghanistan!!), I was unsuccessful.  In reading 
the exchanges on this topic, I was struck by the comment that one needs to be 
extremely careful with the fleshy, brittle roots to protect them from damage, 
as that can be fatal.  I can't recall the exact condition of those roots when 
planting them (as it's been many years) but I seem to remember them being 
quite pliable and stretching most of the three foot width of the depression I 
planted them in.  Probably didn't have much more than an inch to an inch and 
a half of soil over the crown.  They were mulched with six inches of straw 
over Winter and probably some three feet of snow, as well.  I don't know, but 
maybe it was the mulch that did them in as the soil most likely never froze 
beneath it.

Since Oregon generally receives no to very little rain from late June to late 
October, and it can get well into the 90s F. several times during that 
period, that would coincide with the dormant period in their homeland.  
Countries lying on plateaus in the foothills of the Himalaya are probably 
quite cold and snowy during Winter.

This discussion reminds me of the advice that is solemnly provided with 
respect to Martagon lily bulbs, i.e., "they will sulk their first year (after 
being transplanted) and won't grow or, if they do, won't bloom."  This is 
nonsense.  With these particular lilies, it is very important to loosen the 
soil in a large enough area around the bulb to preserve most of the basal 
roots and -- this is the important part -- they must not be allowed to dry 
out.  Doing so will kill them.  Martagon bulbs dug and transplanted with care 
and consideration to the issue of live roots will grow and bloom near 
normally the following season.  Bulbs handled carelessly, allowing their 
roots to dessicate and die, will perform exactly as the "advice" would 

While general advice may be a point to start with, empirical observation and 
experience is usually the best teacher!

Dave Karnstedt
Silverton, OR
Maritime Mediterranean climate

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