Colchicum questions

Jane McGary
Tue, 31 May 2005 15:07:50 PDT
Jim McKenney asked me,Because so many of us grow bulbs from you, your 
experiences are particularly
>significant. It's a mystery to me, for instance, why Crocus goulimyi is an
>easy garden plant here but will not do for you as a garden plant. I'm
>tempted to offer you corms ripened here in Maryland to see if those would
>survive at least the first Oregon winter.

I think I lose it simply because it is extremely attractive to predators, 
like Crocus banaticus. It is cold-hardy in our typical winters.

>Can you tell us more about why you think Colchicum cupanii fails in the open
>rock garden? And maybe tell us a bit more in general about the problems
>peculiar to your climate?

The foliage emerges in fall, and during the winter it freezes, thaws, and 
refreezes while wet. A couple of years of this simply starves the plant, 
and also may introduce rot into the corm through the frozen, rotting leaf 
bases. In the bulb frame, it may freeze, but it won't be wet. This is the 
usual difficulty with growing Mediterranean fall and winter flowering bulbs 
in the Pacific Northwest, where the winters are warm enough for them to try 
to grow, but intermittently cold enough that their growth is checked by 
frosts. I expect the same thing happens in Britain.

That said, I do try most bulbs in the garden once I have propagated a 
surplus (as long as I don't sell all the extras), and sometimes I have a 
nice surprise. For example, Narcissus cantabricus has just flowered for its 
second winter in the open -- but we just had the two warmest winters in the 
past 50 years, too.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

More information about the pbs mailing list