Fritillaria purdyi saga

Jim McKenney
Mon, 28 May 2007 15:32:20 PDT
In the late summer of 2005 I received a nice bulb of Fritillaria purdyi from
Jane McGary. Although it did not bloom, it did go on to grow well. When the
plant dried off for the summer, I checked the bulb and was pleased to see
that it had increased in size. Things seemed to be off to a good start.
Later in the summer, after I had brought the potted bulbs inside for the
summer, I checked this plant again. This time I was dismayed to find, on
first look, no bulb at all. After carefully screening the medium in the pot,
I did find a small (quarter inch square and maybe two millimeters thick)
scrap of seemingly viable bulb. I have no idea what went wrong there. 

This little surviving scrap somehow looked promising, and so I placed it in
a zip-lock plastic bag and stored it on a windowsill. For weeks it showed no
change, and then I spotted what at first glance seemed to be a fungus
growing on the bulb scrap. When I looked at this closely, I realized it was
not a fungus: the bulb was doing something. This little bump on the surface
of the bulb scrap seemed to a growth from the bulb. Over the next few months
I kept a eye on this and was pleased to see that the little bump eventually
developed a sort of point. 

By late autumn, the little bump had morphed into a discernable sprout. I
carefully planted the scrap with its sprout in a pot, put the pot out into
the protected cold frame, and crossed my fingers. Long after other
Fritillaria in the frame had come into growth, a little shoot finally
appeared from that scrap of Fritillaria purdyi bulb. It eventually grew into
a single healthy leaf. That leaf has now died, and I was pleased to see that
the little scrap of bulb has grown into something about the size and shape
of a big lemon seed - at least triple the bulk of the scrap I started with. 

Now, here I am back where I was last year before the collapse of the big
bulb. Does anyone have any idea what might have gone wrong last year when
the big bulb collapsed and disappeared? Rodents and insects are not likely.
Nor is excessive moisture. Can a species like Fritillaria purdyi be kept too
dry when it is dormant?  

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where the earliest lilies are
blooming in some local gardens, although not mine. 

My Virtual Maryland Garden
Webmaster Potomac Valley Chapter, NARGS 
Editor PVC Bulletin 
Webmaster Potomac Lily Society

More information about the pbs mailing list