Looking for other blue Hyacinthaceae -especially Bellevalia used to be 'looking for Scilla melaina'

Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Tue, 06 Apr 2010 17:35:46 PDT
Dell asked,
>Jane and all,
>I am very fond of the little blue bulbs. I may have asked Jane this before,
>but can one obtain seeds or bulbs of Bellevalia forniculata or of Bellevalia
>atroviolacea? And if one were able to get the seeds, how are they coaxed
>into germination?

I grow quite a few Bellevalia species. Some, like the fairly familiar 
B. romana, have dull flowers of buff and purple-brown, but these may 
have interesting form, such as those with very long pedicels. I grew 
all of them from seed from various sources. The Archibalds' list 
usually has a pretty good offering. I have never had B. atroviolacea.

I do grow B. forniculata, which is very desirable for its flower 
color, the exact blue of a good form of Meconopsis betonicifolia. 
However, the individual flowers are quite small, so again (like 
Scilla melaina) it may not seem as spectacular "in the flesh" as it 
does in pictures in books, where you don't see the scale. I grew it 
from seed, from more than one source. Germination is the same as any 
other bulb of this type: best planted in fall and will germinate in 
spring after several months of moist chilling. I find that this 
species does best if grown in an open raised bed in a deep pot, 
exposed to plenty of rain and freezing. From seeing photos and 
descriptions of it in the wild (where it forms huge colonies in the 
northern Caucasus), I think it enjoys the same sort of habitat as we 
see favored by, say, Iris missouriensis in the American West. That 
is, it's really a steppe plant and would probably do better in places 
like Idaho than it does for me in western Oregon. Keeping it healthy 
at Dell's place in Pennsylvania might be a challenge. I do think it 
likes a lot of water in the spring. It is in bud right now.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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