Fritillaria striata and F. pluriflora

Jane McGary
Fri, 23 Mar 2012 10:33:14 PDT
Mark Brown wrote from France,
>Dear Jane, all I can say is lucky you. I might try some in my new 
>desert bed here. No one in Europe thinks they are easy I am pretty sure.

Mark, you don't need to put American fritillarias in a desert bed. 
Many of them grow where they get occasional rainfall and/or snow in 
the period October-April. In winter they may be growing, and 
flowering, in saturated clay soils (e.g., F. pluriflora), though some 
prefer well-drained rocky soils (e.g., F. purdyi). None should be 
dried out as severely as, say F. persica. Most are hardy to about 
minus 6 C at least, though they grow better if kept where the foliage 
is not wet during hard frost. Even the strictly coastal species are 
hardier than one would expect (e.g., F. liliacea) -- and this is true 
of Mediterranean Fritillaria species too, in my experience. In fact, 
I don't believe I have ever lost a fritillaria to winter cold, even 
those from Greek islands. One is probably more likely to kill them 
with excessive heat and drying, especially in pots that aren't 
plunged (buried to the rim).

We are supposed to have some good weather for the next three days. 
The snow is almost entirely melted, the sky is getting light, and the 
morning fog has lifted. I wish I could spend the whole weekend in the 
garden but have a Monday editorial deadline; still, I should be able 
to carry a few buckets of gravel up to the incipient chaparral 
(garrigue) planting before the shoulders give out, and perhaps get 
started top-dressing the new tufa bed, which is waiting for the 
plants I've been raising and buying for it. Yes, it will have bulbs in it!

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

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