Bulbs that can thrive on neglect

Gordon Hogenson via pbs pbs@lists.pacificbulbsociety.net
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 12:31:28 PST
[trying again due to formatting issues]

It would be valuable to create a list of bulbs/geophytes, by region,that have the best chance of thriving with total neglect - no watering, nolifting and dividing, no fertilizing after the initial planting, no bulb cagesor other elaborate protection, little or no pest control, ideally in the nativesoil with very little effort to improve it.  Maybe a bit of weeding tokeep them from being overtaken or shaded out, plus natural leaf litter or otherorganic matter to add to the soil each year.


Such a list could also note the microclimate where the bulbs are seento grow.  It should also be helpful to have regional info about weedyplants that could be invasive or difficult to get rid of.


The "legacy bulbs" list is a good starting point, but bulbscapable of becoming legacy bulbs would be region-specific. Here's that list: http://pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/…

Since this is the Pacific Bulb Society, it makes sense to start the list forPacific coastal areas, and since I live in Western Washington, that's where Ihave knowledge.  Others could contribute for their areas.

The idea is to have the best chance for gardeners to add bulbs to any piece ofland, rather than a prepared garden bed, with little more than a bulb planter,and be most likely to be rewarded with bulbs that persist for the long term.


Here are some of the bulbs or geophytes I've seen persisting for 3 ormore years without any additional care in the wild, unmaintained verges of mygarden, somewhat in order of blooming season.


Galanthus nivalis

Cyclamen coum

Iris histrioides

 Anemone blanda

Crocus tommasinianus

Erythronium revolutum

Daffodils of all kinds

Camassia leichtlinii

Muscari armenaicum - Grape Hyacinth

Leucojum - Gravetye's Giant

Bearded iris

Iris siberica

Colchicum autumnale

Cyclamen hederifolium

Sternbergia lutea


It appears some of the species lilies might fit into this category - Iam evaluating this over time.  So far, Lilium hansonii has done this forme, although it's only bloomed once so far.  I'm raising a lot of liliesfrom seed, and most are pampered in raised beds. Eventually, they will betrialed out in more wild conditions. I need more time to create my list oflilies that will survive without care and attention.


I think this type of no-work gardening is good for bulbophiles whofocus on a specialized group of bulbs (in my case, lilies) but who enjoy bulbsgenerally and would like to have many no-maintenance flowering bulbs takingcare of themselves to free up time to focus more on the special ones that mightneed more nurturing, pampering, and efforts to propagate.


Obviously native plants should be tried for this potential, but for meat least, the fact that the bulb is native is no guarantee it is an easyproject to plant and have it thrive with no attention.  I've lost manynative bulbs,  for any number of reasons. Not that I won't keeptrying.  I've got a project going on now with Calochortus tolmiei, as wellas some Erythroniums and Fritillaria from the west coast states.


Gordon Hogenson

Duvall, WA - zone 7 - 50+ inches of annual rainfall - sandy, gravellywell-drained acidic soil

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