Fritillaria imperialis and persica help

Jane McGary
Fri, 06 Jun 2014 10:02:22 PDT
An older post was quoted in part as follows:
"Since Fritillaria bulbs replace themselves every year, their 
original orientation in the ground will be lost anyway."

This is absolutely not true. Fritillaria bulbs are true bulbs and are 
not annually renewed. They either add more and larger scales, as a 
Lilium bulb does, or simply increase the size of the original scales. 
F. imperialis and F. persica are of the latter type, which can 
produce offsets as well, though these two species don't do so every 
year. The bulb enlarges in successive years until it reaches its 
maximum size for the species and the environmental conditions.

In regard to orientation in the ground, this can change as the bulb 
moves deeper in the soil. This can be achieved either by contractile 
roots (you can observe them in the dormant state, when the withered 
annual roots appear accordion-like), or by the form of the new 
scales, which extend downward and have a "hook" or "anchor" bit at 
the base. When I have many seedling Fritillaria bulbs or the "rice 
grain" bulblets produced by some species, I don't bother to try to 
orient them correctly in planting; they orient themselves through 
root action. The young bulbs begin to show their top and bottom 
clearly to the unaided eye when they are two years old, though if you 
look very carefully you can see it the first year.

I suggested to Janos that he use a gritty soil for his bulbs because 
I assume he lives where there is precipitation through most of the 
year. Bob Nold finds that his plants do well in clay, but notes that 
not much moisture penetrates to the depth of the bulbs (he lives near 
Denver, Colorado). I live in the maritime Pacific Northwest, where 
summers are dry, but the rainy season lasts too long (October to 
June) for some bulbs from more arid climates. When I had a property 
with very well drained soil, I could grow F. persica in the open, but 
now I am gardening on clay and probably it would not do well except 
in a raised bed of gritty soil.

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

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