Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Sat, 21 Mar 2020 13:58:08 PDT
Having lived in a colder part of Alaska for many years, I know 
Kathleen's climate pretty well. I already encouraged her to try species 
that come from areas where there is continuous snow cover through 
winter. This is a good rule for choosing rock garden plants as well as 

USDA "zone ratings" are not useful when we consider the winter survival 
of geophytes. Those ratings were developed for woody plants such as 
fruit trees. Instead, we look at the annual growth cycle and the 
sensitivity to moisture at different times of year. Fritillaria 
camtschatcensis ("chocolate lily") and F. meleagris do well where the 
soil is moist in summer. (Anchorage is subject to cloudy, wet weather 
because of its coastal position amd has robust colonies of F. 
camschat..) F. pallidiflora does pretty well given excellent drainage. 
Others that I grow in the open garden in areas irrigated in summer 
include F. amana, F. pontica, F. acmopetala, and F. affinis, but some of 
those might not tolerate a long winter dormancy. A good group to look at 
are species that grow as "snowmelt" plants, such as F. caucasica or F. 
orientalis. Some populations of the readily available F. crassifolia 
grow in the snow zone. I would be hesitant to recommend F. raddeana and 
F. stenanthera (the first is a relative of the crown imperial, and the 
latter a member of the Rhinopetalum section), since they emerge and 
flower very early here, but raddeana is easily raised from seed (so is 
stenanthera, if you can get seed). The east Asian species, which are 
difficult to acquire as they don't germinate easily from stored seed, 
might not be a good choice. On the other hand, Asiatic lily hybrids do 
well in Alaska, being summer-growers. Kathleen could look into growing 
some of the beautiful lily species from seed, which is not difficult.

Although Anchorage can experience some thaws during winter, I'd 
recommend laying spruce boughs lightly over planted areas with bulbs 
rather than putting on a thick mulch.

Good luck,

Jane McGary, Portland, Oregon, USA

On 3/20/2020 7:18 PM, northernsky@alaska.net wrote:
> I know the pitfalls talking about hardiness, but I still have to ask.  Online F. pallidiflora is rated to zone 4, so I feel confident to try this one in Anchorage, AK (zone 4 or sometimes warmer these days).  I am also curious about F. thunbergii, which I thought was referred to as Japanese in origin.
> But hardiness information on most fritillaria is hard to find online.  Does PBS keep records or ratings on different species?
> I grow our local chocolate lily and also F. melleagris, but I'd like to expand from there.  I will be trying F. raddeana and stenanthera, but would appreciate hearing about any others that might be hardy to minus 10 or 15 F if sited well and winter mulched faithfully.
> Kathleen Swick
> ​​​​​​​Anchorage, Ak.
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