Stem-less Spring Bulbs

Max Withers
Wed, 28 Mar 2007 10:44:46 PDT
I planted 3 Erythronium californicum "White beauty" bulbs last September. The first plant sent up a flower that was already open when the scape emerged, around February 20. The scape continued to grow until it reached a normal height, by which time the flower had rotated down into its normal position (and anthesis had ended). The second plant flowered normally approximately 1 month later -- except it only had 4 tepals. The third has yet to appear.

I can't imagine that any of this was inspired by a lack of chill, as we had an abnormally cold winter (though potentially less total chill accumulation than at Telos, where the bulbs originated). Most likely they are being fussy about transplanting and/or my garden conditions.

So chill or the lack thereof is not the only thing that can cause plants to behave this way.


PS: I don't know about other states, but UC Davis keeps track of California chill accumulations here:…

PPS: for the curious, my freakish Erythroniums are pictured here:…

> Message: 3
> Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2007 20:22:03 -0400
> From: "rdjenkins" <>
> Subject: Re: [pbs] Stem-less Spring Bulbs
> To: "Pacific Bulb Society" <>
> Can't tell you where to find more on this, but lately I have been reviewing the info on "DIF" in the Ball Red Book as I try to figure out why my 'Minerva' bloomed last September with no stem at all and looked to be going the same way this month.
> (DIF refers to the difference in temperatures between night and day. Positive DIF is when the day temp is higher than the night and negative DIf is the opposite. Positive DIF lengthens stem and negative DIF halts or slows that lengthening.)

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