Dry summer lilies

Gordon Hogenson via pbs pbs@lists.ibiblio.org
Wed, 08 Apr 2015 17:37:56 PDT
 I am just starting out on a project to grow the West Coast native Lilium. So far, I have had just a few blooms from parvum, parryi, humboldtii, and kelleyanum.  I've learned a bit from other lily growers, and many of the old lily yearbooks from the RHS Lily Group and the North American Lily Society have accounts of what was tried in various gardens to grow these species. My lily beds are on a terraced slope in sandy soil with good compost, which so far seems to provide the necessary drainage.  Cultivating the soil to a good depth is important, since the roots need air.
Keeping the soil cool in the summer is critical, so a 1" to 2" mulch of woody material, or a lower-growing and not too competitive companion planting is good to keep the soil shaded.  High summer soil temperatures can lead to basal rot, caused by a Fusarium fungus which thrives in warm, moist soil.  Potted seedlings must also be kept cool and shaded.
Protection is needed from slugs, mice, voles, rabbits, deer, and other creatures.
I have seen gardens where washingtonianum, humboldtii, rubescens, kelloggii, parryi, along with many other Lilium from around the world were growing. It's an awe-inspiring sight full of interesting forms, vibrant colors and enchanting fragrances.
I would love to populate an open woodland with Western native Lilium as Jim wants to do.  My climate is maritime northwest, so mostly the lilies that should do well are the wetland types, starting with pardalinum and its relatives.  I am first starting with some protected beds where I have control over all the variables, but if that goes well, I will harvest seed from those, and also propagate vegetatively from divisions and scaled bulbs to produce stock that I can use to try to introduce them to wilder areas.
What is also required is to continue the hybridization efforts that Burbank and Griffiths started with the goal to select vigorous strains while retaining the diverse qualities of the species.  Not much work has been done with these lilies, but perhaps that will change over time as interest in native plants grows.
GordonDuvall, WA zone 7
       From: Nathan Lange <plantsman@comcast.net>
 To: Pacific Bulb Society <pbs@lists.ibiblio.org> 
 Sent: Wednesday, April 8, 2015 4:03 PM
 Subject: Re: [pbs] Dry summer lilies

Luther Burbank's California native lily breeding 
experiments spanned nearly 20 years in the late 
1800's and involved hundreds of thousands of 
field grown plants in or very near Sunset Climate 
Zone 14. Burbank's success is frequently viewed 
as the inspiration for Griffiths' later, more 
focused lily breeding program. The notion that 
Burbank acquired all his hundreds of thousands of 
field grown plants from Carl Purdy and staged his 
entire lily breeding program is mildly 
entertaining. I have never before encountered a 
Luther Burbank lily hybridization denier.

The interest in California native lilies is 
definitely on the rise in the San Francisco Bay 
area and I regularly run into lily enthusiasts 
who are successfully growing numerous species. As 
with so many California native bulb plants worth 
growing, drainage is always the indispensable key 
to success and "horticultural perlite" is seldom 
part of the solution. Many species have 
spectacular flowers, unbelievably high bud 
counts, amazing fragrance, wide variability, and 
exquisite glaucous blooms covering their wavy 
foliage. It's always an incredible site to see 
magnificent flowering plants in the wild towering 
above one's head. Good "garden plants?" 
Definitely not, but worth growing nonetheless.


At 04:52 PM 4/7/2015, you wrote:
>I would be very wary of any early twentieth 
>century claims that the western North American 
>lilies were being successfully grown as garden 
>plants. Why? Because Carl Purdy ran a brisk 
>trade in collected plants. A lot of the 
>gardeners I know seem to think that "easily 
>grown" means the same thing as " readily 
>replaced". The typical bulb catalog is filled 
>with plants which many gardeners mistakenly 
>regard as "easily grown" when what they mean is 
>"easily replaced". Just look at what happened 
>to bulb culture here in the United States during 
>the quarantine years early in the twentieth 
>century.There was one very successful exception: 
>David Griffiths' hybridization of lilies which 
>purportedly were derived ultimately from L. 
>humboldtii x L. pardalinum. Those plants existed 
>by the thousands (maybe tens of thousands) at 
>the peak of Griffiths' program. And they 
>disappeared shortly after Griffiths' death 
>except for certain selected clones, some of 
>which survived for a few more decades.  Jim 
>McKenneyMontgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA 
>zone 7, where spring is quickly approaching its 
>most beguiling. Â 
>pbs mailing list pbs@lists.ibiblio.org 
>http://pacificbulbsociety.org/list.php http://pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/

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