Favorite Red Flowered Bulbs--TOW

Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Thu, 17 Jun 2004 10:11:02 PDT
Kenneth Hixson's notes on red-flowered bulbs demonstrate the intricacies of 
plant "hardiness" in western North America. Ken lives near where I do in 
northwestern Oregon, but at a lower elevation and, I'm guessing, with much 
more retentive soil (more silt, less rock).

He wrote:
>         Rodger mentioned Crocosmia Lucifer.  It is almost a glaring red,
>but here seems to be only borderline hardy.

In contrast, in my colder garden, 'Lucifer' has flourished for many years, 
surviving temperatures around 0 F (-16 C) and increasing to huge clumps. I 
discovered, however, that when you divide it, you need to keep the whole 
"stack" of corms together, or the plants will be weak for a few years.

Then Ken wrote,
>Alstroemeria psittacina/pulchella is a weed

This species does not survive the winter in my garden, although I do grow 
several other Alstro species in the open.


>Fritillaria recurva or F. gentneri can't be on my favorites list as
>I've never gotten beyond the seedling stage.

F. gentneri should probably be considered a subspecies of F. recurva, but 
keeping it separate is helpful in protecting its habitat, since it is a 
listed "species." It is quite variable and crosses readily with more 
typical F. recurva. I've also obtained seedlings by crossing F. gentneri 
(which I got through a seed collector's mistake!) with F. eastwoodiae, 
since I had only one gentneri in flower and they are probably self-sterile. 
All three are generally red (the only instance of this color in the genus) 
with yellow checkering, or yellow with red checkering (I think the latter 
is strictly correct), but orange and even yellow are more common in the 
small-flowered eastwoodiae. All three are easy to grow in the bulb frame, 
but young bulbs probably would not survive the extra-long wet season of 
northern Oregon in the open. They are among the mid-season bloomers in the 

Another red-bulb hardiness note: Jim McKenney in the Mid-Atlantic region 
wondered if Dichelostemma ida-maia would be winter-hardy for him. I'm 
pretty sure it would be, though the catalog rating he cites (Zone 5) seems 
exaggerated to me, unless other climatic conditions were just right; the 
foliage is present in late winter. They do well outdoors here. Anyway, it 
isn't much of an investment to experiment, since they are very cheap bulbs. 
Easy from seed, too. D. ida-maia surprises me by standing upright in the 
garden even where it has no surrounding plants to lean on. It also infests 
the bulb frames, having pulled down below the wire underlying the plunge 
medium, where I can't get at it. The hummingbirds were buzzing me yesterday 
evening as I collected seed from the frames -- they wanted me away from 
their buffet.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

More information about the pbs mailing list