Scilla natalensis in flower

Boyce Tankersley
Thu, 21 May 2009 14:11:30 PDT
It was a very pleasant surprise to find flowering outdoors in USDA zone
5b, just northwest of Chicago, Illinois, a Scilla natalensis (Merwilla
plumbea) grown from seed obtained through the PBS seed exchange 10 years

For years I coddled the Scilla in containers indoors in anticipation of
spikes with dozens of flowers; then a post came through PBS that
mentioned that they never bloomed in containers. Uggh, 7 years of
misspent effort. Given that my collection of non-hardy plants had
exceeded the available space in our home, the Scilla and a number of
other 'probably not hardy' bulbs were planted in a south facing flower
bed that receives reflected heat from the aluminum siding.

It is a good foot away from the house foundation in an area where Canna
freeze out.

I kept 1 container indoors - and indeed it still has not flowered.

For those not familiar with the Chicago winter of 2008-2009, we spent
most of the winter with temperatures well below freezing and dipped for
almost a week into temperatures in the -10 to -16 degree F range.

Not hot enough for hallucinations yet; am I just lucky or have others
had it survive outdoors in continental climates?

Boyce Tankersley
Director of Living Plant Documentation
Chicago Botanic Garden
1000 Lake Cook Road
Glencoe, IL 60022
tel: 847-835-6841
fax: 847-835-1635

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