A mystery solved, sort of - Sternbergia colchiciflora

Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Fri, 02 Feb 2007 09:33:07 PST
I have also noticed a seed capsule (which unfortunately got eaten by 
something before it ripened) on Sternbergia colchiciflora, when I hadn't 
seen a flower, but I assumed that I simply had missed the brief, tiny flower.

There has been discussion of Sternbergia seed set and germination here, 
with some writing that they can't get viable seed from their garden plants. 
However, I think I've got viable seed on all those that I grow (the only 
one I don't have is S. fischeriana) in past years, and in fact there are 
self-sown seedlings in the plunge material in the bulb frames. I have 
seedlings of S. greuteriana coming up from seed I saved last summer.

One that I'm particularly eager to increase, however, is S. candida, and I 
haven't managed to get the seeds before something else (mice?) got them -- 
and now two of my five bulbs have been destroyed by bulb fly grubs. I 
routinely cover all the autumn-flowering sternbergias with Reemay to 
prevent this, but I didn't cover S. candida because it continues growing so 
long into spring, and that doomed it. This year I'll get the Reemay on it 
early. And even this measure isn't perfect; apparently in spite of the 
cover a bulb fly got to a double snowdrop I was growing, and even though I 
squeeze the bulbs firmly to see if they're sound, I managed to send out a 
couple of bad ones last summer.

I probably should group all the amaryllids in the frames and make a big 
cover, say of sheer drapery fabric, to protect them wholesale. This seems 
to be working with the crocuses, which are often dug by deer mice. I 
covered a big section devoted to crocus with small-mesh aviary wire last 
fall and have seen no sign of predation there, though of course it's ugly 
and I can't lift the pots individually.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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