Encouraging Calochortus to set seed

Michael Mace michaelcmace@gmail.com
Fri, 16 Aug 2013 22:34:27 PDT
Chris wrote:

>>do I get a follow up question? 

As many as you want.

>> How deep Calochortus roots tend to extend below the bulb (esp for the
various Mariposas)?  

Good question. I've never had the courage to dig one up while in growth and

>>How deep should I plan for the bulbs themselves to dig?  

I grow them only in pots, and never tried to dig them in the wild. But I
remember seeing anecdotes from some of the old bulb-collectors that talked
about following bulb cases down and down and down...  When I grow them in
pots, they seem to go down 1-2 inches every year, meaning I have to repot
after two years or they'll be at risk of running into the bottom of the pot
(after which they usually die). I've never been sure if they dive deep
because they're looking for cooler soil in an overheated pot or just because
it's in their nature to move down.

Personally, I'd try an experiment in which you put a layer of about 6-8
inches of your planting mix above the local adobe. I know that's enough
depth to keep the bulbs safe from rot for a couple of years, and with luck
the roots will be able to reach the moister soil. Then after about three
years dig them up to see how far down they've gone, and if any are in the
clay. I'm not sure that growing into the clay would hurt them, as long as
it's far enough down that it won't get hot.

But I think the biggest issue isn't the depth of the planting mix, it's
keeping up the watering until the seed pods are mature.

>>If they reach a water-retentive layer, will they tend to stop digging, or
will they dig into it and potentially rot?

Unfortunately, I don't know.  Sorry.

By the way, perlite is going to make your soil mix even more fast-draining,
unless the perlite is full of fines.

San Jose, CA

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