How to grow Dichelostemma ida-maia in a cold climate

Jane McGary
Mon, 24 Mar 2014 18:21:56 PDT
Mike wrote:
>I'm late coming back to this issue, but Michael, if you're still listening,
>I think the advice already given is good. The one thing I'd add is that in
>its native climate, the ground gets bone dry in July-October. So if you want
>to see it in bloom more than once, you'll need to dig it up or protect it
>from summer rain.

I've grown this plant from coastal northern California (which doesn't 
usually experience the extreme summer drought of the more southern 
and interior areas) outdoors for many years in the Portland, Oregon, 
area. It is in ordinary borders as well as places that aren't watered 
in summer and does fine, as long as the drainage is good. There is 
even a volunteer among the Eucomis, which need summer water. It isn't 
as fussy as Mike suggests when it's in the ground, though probably it 
is less tolerant of summer water in a pot. It isn't a suitable pot 
subject anyway, being very tall and slender. In nature it grows among 
grasses and shrubs, which support it. Bulbs tend to work their way 
deep into the soil, which would help them survive in colder climates. 
It is a great favorite of hummingbirds, which are probably its only pollinator.

Closely resembling it in flower form but different in color and very 
different in growth habit is the peculiar Dichelostemma volubile, 
which has a twining stem that can attain more than a meter in length. 
Its flowers are bright pink. Both these species can continue to lkook 
fresh in flower and ripen their seed after the stem has come detached 
from the bulb; apparently there is enough moisture in the long stems 
to support this.

There is a plant sold in Dutch bulb catalogs as 'Pink Diamond' which 
is either a color variant of D. ida-maia or a hybrid of these two 
species. There was some confusion about its origin that referred it 
to D. x venusta, but this was an error.

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

More information about the pbs mailing list