Sternbergia lutea flowering

Jane McGary
Sat, 18 Aug 2018 11:17:33 PDT
Re. Bob Nold's post: If the Sternbergias have formed "large clumps," 
they definitely need to be divided and replanted, and now is the time 
(getting near the deadline, in fact, as like their relatives Narcissus 
they will make some root growth in early fall). If they flowered 
profusely once in his Denver, Colorado garden, they should be able to do 
it again. They might need some supplementary moisture in winter, being 
Mediterranean-cycle growers, but you don't want the bulbs (which don't 
pull down very far in the soil) to freeze while wet. Fertilizer couldn't 
hurt; I fertilize all my bulbs -- those under cover in the bulb house 
(where most of the Sternbergias are) 2 or 3 times a year during the 
moist months with soluble complete fertilizer, and those in the open 
garden with Apex slow-release granular. I feel that Sternbergias do best 
with warm, even hot summers. In the wild I've seen them primarily in 
fully exposed positions. If Bob's plants are shaded in summer, that may 
inhibit them too despite the very high summer temperatures in Denver.

I've seen one successful open-garden planting of Sternbergia lutea in 
Portland, Oregon, where I live, but I have hesitated to expose it to as 
long a wet season as we normally experience. I do have S. greuteriana in 
a little raised sand bed in the open and it has done all right so far. 
Most of my S. lutea (and S. sicula, if it's truly distinct, which I 
wonder about) are directly planted in a sandy raised bed with overhead 
cover. I find they do much better planted directly in the medium than 
they do in pots. The ones I have in "pots" are actually in plastic mesh 
aquatic baskets plunged in sand and can get their annual roots out of 
the containers. There is some S. greuteriana in there too, and a little 
form of what I think is S. lutea from Crete, and another fall-flowering 
species, S. clusiana, which finally performed last year at about age 7 
or 8. In spring there are S. fischeriana (flowering reliably, actually 
in winter, here) and S. candida (shy bloomer here). I've never managed 
to keep S. colchiciflora for more than 3 or 4 years and have givenĀ  up 
on it.

Because the entire genus is CITES listed, acquiring bulbs can be 
challenging (especially monetarily), but most of these species are 
fairly easy to grow from seed, which should be sown in early autumn.

Jane McGary, Portland, Oregon, USA

On 8/17/2018 5:06 PM, penstemon wrote:
> Since people are talking about getting bulbs to flower, what exactly 
> is the secret to getting Sternbergia lutea to flower? Rain? 
> Fertilizing? Division of the bulbs? Is it just me?
> There are several large clumps of bulbs here; the last time the bulbs 
> flowered profusely was October of 2000.
> Thanks.
> Bob Nold
> Denver, Colorado, USA
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