Fritillaria monograph on its way

Jane McGary
Sun, 22 Mar 2015 10:58:44 PDT
Dear Dr. Robertson,
I have found that all the western American Fritillaria species are more 
cold-hardy than might be expected from their native range (this is also 
true of Calochortus), and more than British publications claim. I'm 
familiar with your area and would try to grow any western American bulbs 
there if they could be protected from gophers and other predators. 
Planting bulbs among rocks, as you've begun to do, is a fairly good 
protective device if the rocks are close enough and big enough to deter 
tunneling. Another strategy is to acquire some of the strong plastic 
mesh pots used for aquatic plants in garden pools and sink them to the 
rim, and plant the bulbs in them; that will keep out voles, but I don't 
know about gophers as my former garden, which was in the Cascade 
foothills, rarely had a gopher (and the one that showed up and ate bulbs 
was promptly eaten by one of my Malamutes).

As you say, it has become difficult to get seeds of western native 
bulbs, but the Pacific Bulb Society is expanding its members' seed 
exchange. I would also try the Theodore Payne Foundation (see their 
website) in southern California, which sells seeds. Telos Rare Bulbs 
(catalog online) and Illahe Rare Bulbs (website, catalog sent by email 
in August) sell western natives as mature and smaller bulbs. Seed of 
most Fritillaria species germinates the first year of sowing and the 
plants reach flowering size in about 4 years. Most of the American 
species (section Liliorrhiza) also produce either tiny offsets ("rice 
grains") or loose scales that can be used for propagation.

I hope this is helpful.

Sincerely, Jane McGary, Pacific Bulb Society

On 3/22/2015 1:14 AM, mrobertson wrote:
> Dear Ms McGary (and other PBS members),
> I was very interested to read your article "Fritillaria in the Pacific Garden." Though it may be difficult to acquire seeds, could you recommend species that I may be able to grow in my small rock garden in Roseville, California? I would start the seeds in pots and transplant to the garden later. My USDA hardiness zone is 9a or 9b depending on who you believe. I have personally measured temperatures below 20oF from my weather station that matches standard specifications. The last two years have been unusually dry and somewhat warm, so I cannot count on cold for those bulbs that require it either. I garden on the edge of Sunset zones 9 & 14, so July-August high temperatures are typically above 100 oF for many days to a record high of 118 oF (43 oC to 48 oC) accompanied by low humidity. Fortunately, cool evening breezes off the Sacramento/San Joaquin river delta make nighttime temperatures comfortable, at least for humans. My soil is slightly acid heavy clay amended with sand
>   gravel, composted yard trimmings, and rotted pine bark. The garden is built on a slope and despite the clay has reasonably good drainage. The altitude is about 100 feet (30m) Most of the garden is in full sun, but some areas have shade at mid day from a  pomegranate tree. A few small shrubs and of course the stones/rocks offer some shelter as well. (There has recently been some discussion on the forum of what dimensions define stones and rocks. Mine range from a span to a cubit in cross section). Annual precipitation averages about 22 inches (560mm) but recently has been much less. I irrigate about one inch (25mm) in a single watering per month during the dry season (between May and October). Hopefully we will have water for irrigation this year. I give no supplemental water to the area of the garden with California native plants during this time. As you probably know, we normally have 4 to 5 months without significant precipitation every year. During winter and spring, I
>   rigate the entire garden every week or every other week if there is no rain--about one inch each time to keep the soil from drying out. Specimen plants are given supplemental water all year as needed,
> I would appreciate it if you could also direct me to cultivation advice as well for selected fritillary species.
> Thank you for suggestions. I just started the rock garden in 2013 and am at this stage still just experimenting. Each species and variety is such an exciting challenge.
> Sincerely,
> Mark Robertson
> P.S. Currently blooming here are Tulipa wilsoniana, Tulipa linifilia, Leucojum aestivum, Ipheion uniflora, Narcissus bulbocodium conspicuus, and Narcissus hybrids, Ixia hybrids, Sparaxis hybrids, Bletilla striata, Freesia hybrids, and lots of Cymbidiums in pots as well. They grow outside with a little protection on the coldest nights. This fall, Sternbergia lutea and fall Crocus spp., did well. Triteleia spp., Dichelostemma spp., Tulipa clusiana, and others are coming along well.
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