Mary Sue Ittner
Tue, 17 Jun 2003 07:17:00 PDT
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 the 
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 I 
use a less lean mix now. I don't think some of the species I grow could get 
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 others 
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 environmental 
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 the 
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 Jane 
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 may 
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 grow 
and the next day the species I don't grow.

Mary Sue

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