Pacific Bulb Society BX 294 - Calochortus supplemental info

Jane McGary
Mon, 07 Nov 2011 09:39:57 PST
Nhu wrote,A packet of the Calochortus seeds was recently passed on to 
me. It turned
>out that the seeds came from Ron Ratko of Northwest Native Seeds (NNS).
>These were the leftovers and is most likely the absolute last chance to get
>such a wonderful variety of wild-collected seeds, so I thought I'd pass
>them on to the BX. They are mostly from 2004 and 2005 but Calochortus seeds
>are known to have a long shelf life.

This is quite true. Several years ago Ron Ratko gave me a number of 
packets of old Calochortus seed, and they all germinated well. Even 
more impressive, I received some packets of various western American 
bulb seeds from the Robinetts' collections that had been stored for 
more than ten years, and the Calochortus and Allium seeds came up like grass.

I hope my order gets to Dell in time to take advantage of this offer. 
I'm already growing a number of the items so will leave those for others.

If you think some of these are too challenging, you may be wrong. 
This year, after I got all my Calochortus bulbs out of their big pots 
and into free-rooting conditions in raised beds under cover, they 
flowered with astonishing success. (Perhaps having the flowering 
stems eaten by rabbits for the two previous years had strengthened 
the bulbs.) Even the rare Calochortus striatus bloomed, far from its 
blazing hot alkali flats; it was grown from one of the collections 
available on the BX.

Advice on sowing: Sow the seeds thinly. If they germinate, it's 
likely they will do so en masse, and they are very vulnerable to 
damping off if growing too close together. Do not keep the pots in 
too warm a location, and water only moderately. Don't try to move the 
bulbs on during their first dormancy, as they are very small, unless 
you can just take the whole pot of soil in a compact clump and put it 
into a larger pot.

Always give Calochortus bulbs as much depth as possible. They descend 
rapidly during the growing season. Even if you don't normally crock 
your pots, it's a good idea to do so with bulbs that "drop" like 
this, because they will otherwise drop right into the drain hole and 
clog it, resulting in rot at worst or a broken pot at best. When I 
had everything in clay pots plunged in sand (see current discussion 
on "plunge media"), I put a few pieces of lava rock around the drain 
hole to prevent this.

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

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