diana chapman
Tue, 17 Jun 2003 07:54:15 PDT
Dear All:

I grow all my Brodiaeas in large pots, and there are often dozens of blooms
at the same time.  As Mary Sue pointed out, these bulbs look much better in
a group.  With a dozen or so blooming at the same time, the fact that the
flowers do not open all at once is not a detraction, but rather an asset,
since the bloom time is extended, and the unopened flowers are not obvious.
In all my pots, the foliage isn't gone when they are in bloom, but is partly
shriveled, necessitating some sort of disguise.  Since I used to group pots
for ornamental purposes, I simply have positioned the Brodiaea pots where
the leaves are hidden by another pot.  In the garden some sort of ground
cover or planting can be used - after all, this is needed even with Dutch
bulbs to disguise the foliage as it dies off.  I have found that all of the
Themidaceae can tolerate summer watering if drainage is good, and moisture
not excessive.

As for the height of Mary Sue's B. elegans, I have often found the reference
to height in Jepson and other references to be way off the mark.  The B.
stellaris found the other day were as much as a foot tall (30cm), growing in
the roadside grasses, although Jepson says 2-6cm (a few were that short).
With moisture and fertilizer they will all reach greater heights than in the

While Dichelostemmas are the best cut flowers out of the Themidaceae,
Brodiaeas are excellent also, since they last well in water, and the satiny
texture and intense purple-blue color of most is a welcome addition to a
bouquet.   As in the garden, they are best in a group and mixed in with
other spring-blooming flowers.

Telos Rare Bulbs

----- Original Message -----
From: "Mary Sue Ittner" <>
To: "Pacific Bulb Society" <>
Sent: Tuesday, June 17, 2003 7:17 AM
Subject: Re: [pbs] Brodiaea--TOW

> Dear All,
> I grow Brodiaea in large pots, in raised beds, and in the ground. Because
> the flowers in the umbel open one at a time and the leaves are sometimes
> gone before they flower, they wouldn't exactly make a show pot for display
> and might better be integrated in the garden. I manage somehow to look at
> mine in containers and just enjoy each new flower and don't see the rest.
> Years ago the Robinetts advised deep pots and I found I could grow them in
> much shallower pots and still get them to grow, but I think they are
> happier in deep pots (especially the larger species) and you often find
> contractile roots pull the cormlets down sometimes to the bottom of the
> pot. Many of them grow in areas that are wet late into spring and I found
> it I grew them in a very lean mix and didn't concentrate on watering them
> once it stopped raining many of them would dry up before they bloomed. So
> use a less lean mix now. I don't think some of the species I grow could
> too much water as they are not bothered by my wet winters.
> As Diana said they can be grown from seed started in the fall and kept in
> growth until they start to dry out in the summer. My records indicate that
> seed I have started in the fall germinates sometimes in a month, but
> sometimes it doesn't come up until January. I move seedling pots and
> in the shade when they are dormant and leave them there until late fall
> when I water them again. As it is relatively cool where I live in the
> summer I find if I try to repot them in August and sometimes September too
> in this cool spot they may already by growing new roots and shooting
> without any summer water. I have no idea what they do in the wild. In my
> pots they show up from October-December probably depending on
> conditions and later than that in the ground.
> I usually add slow release fertilizer when I repot them. I am unlikely to
> water them with dilute fertilizer when they are well watered by the rain,
> but I find the seedlings grow faster with dilute fertilizer and I partly
> shelter some of my species from the rain. And once it stops if the
> seedlings are still green I water them with the dilute fertilizer until
> leaves start to dry up.
> I have read for years that they won't tolerate summer water, but I suspect
> some of them may be more tolerant than we think. An example in bloom right
> now is Brodiaea elegans that has survived for years growing in a container
> on my deck with a Meyer lemon that gets watered almost every day during
> warm weather. And this lemon is well fertilized too because otherwise it
> starts looking very unhappy. I was very fortunate to have a visit from
> McGary last week and she said it was the biggest Brodiaea elegans she had
> ever seen. It measures about 28 inches (70 cm.) tall and the individual
> flowers in the umbel are about 1 3/4 inches (4.5 cm.) in diameter which
> not be the best way to measure it. If you look at the picture below you
> will know what I mean.
> I can't testify to hardiness, but once again I expect it depends on the
> species and that ones grown from seed collected from wild populations at
> high elevations would be hardy. Tomorrow I will describe the species I
> and the next day the species I don't grow.
> Mary Sue
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