Calochortus in cultivation

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Kelaidis
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Calochortus in cultivation

Calochortus are usually grown in containers in Britain, say, or occasionally in a corner of a "xeriscape" in drier climates (there are some high mountain species I suspect would do just fine in a sunny rock garden anywhere, but they are the exception...).

My garden is over a half acre: too big to try and irrigate in our semiarid climate. So half the garden grows largely on what does (or doesn't) fall from the sky. I have a small meadow planted mostly to blue gramma grass (Bouteloua gracilis), the shortgrass that probably would have been on my garden prior to disturbance. Five or six years ago I purchased several hundred bulbs (they were ridiculously cheap at the time, like $.25 apiece!) of four species of Calochortus from Brent and Becky's bulbs. Cc. luteus, venustus and speciosus all went into this meadow. I'd scattered several hundred seed of Calochortus gunnisonii I'd had sitting in my seed files for years as well. It took several years for the gunnisonii to come into bloom: I now have dozens of these as well: the original Californians have taken well to their Colorado captivity. The second shot shows these last summer blazing away. I now look forward to seeing what permutations show up: some of the original clumps have five or more stems, and a dozen flowers this year! Can't wait till May when they bloom again!

Booker
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Joined: 2010-01-30

Magnificent sight Panayoti ... there are growers drooling into their cocoa here in the U.K.

Cliff Booker A.K.A. Ranunculus
On the moors in Lancashire, U.K.
Usually wet, often windy, sometimes cold ... and that's just me!

Lori S.
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Joined: 2009-10-27

So, who, in colder zones, is growing calochortus?  (I have never tried any species.)
C. apiculatus barely sneaks into southern Alberta (Waterton N.P.) but I have to admit I have not seen it. 

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

RickR
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Joined: 2009-09-21

I've toyed with them (in my mind).  In fact it was just this winter that I read a most excellent article regarding the genus in a back issue of (N)ARGS (about 1968, I think).  Again, I was inspired to try some, but something else always seems to take priority. . .

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Hoy
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Joined: 2009-12-15

I have tried Calochortus twice, "nice, fat hybrid bulbs" from Holland! They don't like it here, anyway, disappear in one or two seasons. Anybody who knows about species able to cope with winter moisture?

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

Kelaidis
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I am adding a few more pix of the Californian Calochortus that have come through repeated zubzero cold every winter: this winter we've had over 60" of snow and the ground has been saturated and I suspect they will do just fine!

Summer heat is probably more important. Hence growing them with grasses which suck up the excess moisture. I have no doubt that there are other chemical reactions occuring with grass roots (symbiotic in nature)--a wonderful arena for research!

For every minion of the peaks there are a dozen steppe children growing in the dry Continental heart of all hemispheres still unknown to horticulture.

Hoy
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Kelaidis, do you think it is better to sow them in situ than plant bulbs? I have a place at the south east coast where I can try them. It's warmer than here.

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

Kelaidis
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Joined: 2010-02-03

Most of the commercial Calochortus are heat lovers: you would have to give them a hot microclimate (south side of a rock or house) and companion grass that would be compatible to succeed over time in a moisture climate with these.

The more moisture demanding species from higher elevations (and there are lots) would probably do fine in a thyme meadow or growing in a well drained classic rock garden. These you would have to do from seed since I know no reliable bulb source.

Hope this helps!

For every minion of the peaks there are a dozen steppe children growing in the dry Continental heart of all hemispheres still unknown to horticulture.

Hoy
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Joined: 2009-12-15

Many thanks! I'll look for seed to try at my cabin by the south coast. It is warmer and drier there. It is exciting trying new species!

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

Michael J Campbell
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Calochortus albus
Calochortus albus
Calochortus albus var rubellus
Calochortus albus var rubellus

Michael J Campbell in Shannon, County Clare, Ireland

http://www.facebook.com/michael.j.campbell.395

Lewisias, alpines ,South African bulbs
http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/michaelJcampbell63

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

Wonderful buds, Michael.  And multiple ones per stem, too!

Isn't it interestingly odd how the area of color on the petals seem to affect the shape of the petals themselves...

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

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