Scilla maderensis

Jane McGary
Sun, 29 May 2011 17:07:03 PDT
Janet wrote

>  Does anybody have experience growing this plant from seed?   I 
> would like to purchase a bulb or plant but am having no luck 
> locating either.  Finding seeds seems difficult too but not 
> impossible. However, I wonder if it's difficult to get the seeds to germinate.

Note spelling change in subject line.

Terry Laskiewicz and I were very impressed by seeing this plant in 
spectacular flower at Kew last fall, and Terry tracked down a 
European seed source and obtained seeds for both of us. Mine haven't 
germinated yet but I have high hopes. Ordinarily seeds of Scilla 
(broadly speaking, prior to the splitting up of the genus recently) 
germinate well, and I have grown many species without a problem.

Scilla maderensis, or whatever it's called now, is a large species 
with striking violet bulbs, which the gardeners at Kew had planted 
even with the soil surface. The flowering stems are tall and lavishly 
supplied with flowers of a lovely lavender hue. It may be a little 
tender but some of Kew's bulbs had been risked in the open rock 
garden. I've been growing other western Mediterranean species in 
conditions colder than anything experienced at Kew, so I'd expect 
this species to be hardy at least into the low 20s F.

As I've observed before, many people avoid the whole genus Scilla 
because it has at times included the present genus Hyacinthoides, 
home of the dreaded Spanish bluebell, H. campanulata. If you don't 
grow any Scilla species, you're missing out on a lot of good plants. 
Currently performing in the garden here is S. monophylla, in both 
rock garden and rough grass, a very pretty blue, small and 
well-behaved, and an attractive companion to the small 
yellow-flowered Delphinium luteum also in the rock garden. (For that 
matter, even the Spanish bluebells that infest my new garden looked 
pretty good mingling with Narcissus 'Hawera'. which I planted not 
knowing what lurked nearby. They're through now and I'll dig them out 
and stick them under a huge Douglas fir where nothing else grows.)

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

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