Planting depth for Lycoris

William Hoffmann via pbs
Fri, 16 Oct 2020 06:26:26 PDT
Tony mentioned our discussion about spring temperatures. My thoughts
on the importance of a long,cool spring for spring-foliage Lycoris
comes partly from speculation and partly from my experience with L.
sanguinea. In trying to get the sanguinea to bloom, I tried piling
snow and ice on top of the soil all winter one year, whenever either
was available. I kept buckets partially filled with water to have a
ready supply of ice whenever night temperatures were cold enough. I
thought this should have generated plenty of chilling, but it did no
good. But then, in 2019, after what to me seemed to be an unusually
long spring for us, my L. sanguinea bloomed for the first time. Though
this year also seems like a long,cool spring, and did not get any
flowering. So, really just some anecdotal evidence.
    My speculation is that a short spring limits carbon gain of
spring-foliage species, similar to the way that cold damage limits
carbon gain of fall-foliage species, which everyone seems to agree
impairs flowering. It seems well documented that warm temperatures can
accelerate leaf senescence in spring ephemerals, and it seems true for
Lycoris. So a quick transition from winter to summer might not give
enough time for the plant to accumulate enough carbohydrate for
reliable flowering. Perhaps partial shade can have a similar effect as
a long spring. Tony, when we spoke, you seemed to know which Lycoris
bloom best in partial shade. I am curious if these tend to be the
spring-foliage species.
    Curiously I too transplanted some L. squamigera this spring and a
few them bloomed. My established clumps did not.

>This brings up another puzzling lycoris issue.  Everything I?ve ever read has repeated that Lycoris x squamigera flowers only after a very cold, long winter, which is why it flowers reliably in cold climates, but not >in warmer regions...Bill suggested that our long, cool spring in 2020 caused the buds to break, despite the mild winter temperatures.  Others have long linked rainfall with lycoris flowering, which is certainly the >case with zephyranthes. Sounds like a great grad student project.

William A. Hoffmann
Department of Plant & Microbial Biology
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC, 27695-7612
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