Rhinopetalum Fritillaria, was Seed germinating in chiller

Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Fri, 06 Jan 2012 11:32:34 PST
Peter Taggart wrote:
>I would put the pot of seedlings in the bulb frame.
>The Fritillaria karalinii on the Wiki looks like a pot of small / young
>bulbs, possiably slightly out of character due to lush growing conditions.
>The plant on the Frit Group site is a very different and exceptional form.
>I am not certain of the diagnostics but it is certainly a rhinopetalum.
>I also have seedlings up of Fritillarias karalinii and ariana. They seem a
>little early this year.

I have grown all of the Rhinopetalum section Fritillaria species from 
seed except for F. karelinii (note spelling) and I agree that the 
seedlings are quite hardy and should be kept cool. Several times I 
ordered seed of F. karelinii from exchanges and got a different 
species, and I bought a bulb under that name from Paul Christian (I 
believe it was Chinese-grown) and it was actually F. tortifolia. I 
think that Janis Ruksans may, at least some years, supply the true 
species as bulbs. I saw one from his nursery that was a large plant 
with lovely lavender flowers. The owner had paid a very high price 
for it, but I wish I had ordered one too!

All these species (which appear in Czech and other former Eastern 
Bloc country seed lists as genus Rhinopetalum) do best if grown hard 
in very gritty soil and kept dry but not desiccated in summer. They 
shouldn't be exposed to wet freezing, so keep them protected from 
winter rains. They are especially desirable because of the attractive 
colors of most of them -- not "frog-colored" green and brown, but 
white, pink, and lavender. The section name comes from the form of 
the nectary, which is deeply indented so that the back of the petal 
appears to have a "nose." F. stenanthera is the easiest species to 
start with, and unlike most of the other species, it occasionally 
produces offsets so that good color forms can be increased. Another 
easy one is F. bucharica, which doesn't look much like those 
mentioned above and has a lot of white or greenish white flowers; it 
can sometimes be purchased as a bulb. F. ariana (also spelled 
arriana) and F. gibbosa are similar and, I think, sometimes confused 
in cultivation; the former is a lovely pink.

If you have a cold frame or alpine house, you should try these bulbs 
for interest early in the season. Along with some western American 
species, they are usually the earliest fritillarias in flower.

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

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