Erythronium americanum - how to get it to flower

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Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14
Erythronium americanum - how to get it to flower

In the past 10 years that I've grown Erythronium americanum, all it ever does is make leaves, never a single flower in all that time. The diffusely mottled fleshy foliage is delightful, the rhizomes spreading the colony around, but I want flowers! I noticed today it is starting to spread into my lawn.

It is planted in sloped bed under a Magnolia tree where I have lots of trillium species, cyclamen, and a tiny Viola species. The Erythronium and Viola are benign spreaders, too small to harm the commingling Trillium and Cyclamen.

I heard the tip about planting the rhizomes over a rock, but others report this has not worked. Any suggestions?

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

McDonough wrote:

I heard the tip about planting the rhizomes over a rock, but others report this has not worked.  Any suggestions?

I too would like to hear any suggestions! I have grown this species in more than 10 years and neither got any flowers!

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

Boland
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Title: Member
Joined: 2009-09-25

What is it about these rice-tuber erythronium and their shy blooming?  I've had americana for 10 years plus and I get maybe 4-5 blooms per year.  Dens-canis is even more shy.  Meanwhile, at work we have a huge clump in our woodland bed, about 25 years old and it blooms like crazy!  Here is a photo from last spring.  I still believe there are blooming clones and asexual-propagation clones and I (we) seem to have the latter.

Todd Boland
St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada
Zone 5b
1800 mm precipitation per year

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Boland wrote:

What is it about these rice-tuber erythronium and their shy blooming?  I've had americana for 10 years plus and I get maybe 4-5 blooms per year.  Dens-canis is even more shy.  Meanwhile, at work we have a huge clump in our woodland bed, about 25 years old and it blooms like crazy!  Here is a photo from last spring.  I still believe there are blooming clones and asexual-propagation clones and I (we) seem to have the latter.

That's what I want mine to look like !!!! >:( >:( >:(  Thanks Todd for showing us what it can do, great photo.  I think you're right, there must be free-blooming clones and shy-or-non-blooming clones.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

I've never heard of Erythronium bulbs referred to as rice-tubers.  What exactly are you referring to?

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

Boland
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Title: Member
Joined: 2009-09-25

Rick it is a term I coined...I have heard of Frits producing masses of tiny bulbs around the part bulb...they are often referred to as rice...I think crocus can do the same.  Erythronium dens-canis has tooth-shaped tubers and the masses of baby tubers do indeed look like rice grains, hence rice-tubers!

Todd Boland
St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada
Zone 5b
1800 mm precipitation per year

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

On the subject of rice,  I was pretty excited the first time I saw it on some Fritillaria camschatcensis bulbs a NARGS member sent me from wild stock in Alaska.  But I wonder if each "grain" is actually already a bulblet on its own, or if shoot initiation is spurred only upon separation from the mother bulb.  Frit bulbs are quite unlike those of Lilium despite thier close relation, in that they generally have far less scales, sometimes only two, and seedlings (with my limited experience) seem to start with a seemingly quite undifferentiated single scale of considerable size.  They remind me of the white tubers of the Hog peanut (Amphicarpaea bracteata) here.

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

Bowden
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-04-08

But back to getting Erythronium americanum to bloom, I have a patch that's about 8 years old, spreads a bit every year, never flowers.  I know it was collected from a "flowering clone" because the person who gave it to me was an elderly woman who, as many used to do, went into the woods and collected wildflowers to grow in her garden.  Her enormous mat never flowered either. I think I know the place she found her plant, a steep hillside in a local city park that every year is covered with trout lily blooms, much like Todd's picture.  Could it be an excess of something in the soil, or a deficiency of some sort? A plant or fungal association? Has anyone tried doses of potassium or bone meal?  This has always been a mystery to me, but then the plant is above the ground for so little time of the year I never get around to experimenting before it's gone, and then I forget it's even there.

Boland
Boland's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-09-25

I can honestly say the population at the BG has had NOTHING done to it in the last 20 years!  The soil is pretty acidic and very peaty...I have similar soil in my own garden for them but still mine don't bloom but those at the BG are spectacular!

Todd Boland
St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada
Zone 5b
1800 mm precipitation per year

Allison
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Title: Guest
Joined: 2010-04-08

(This is my first attempt at posting to the forum so I hope it works!)

I too would like to understand E. americanum. I have it by the acre..... but very few blooms. Two years ago I tried fertilizing a small area to see if that would help. Nope, in fact I think it had a bad effect as there were fewer leaves the next spring. But this year is sort of interesting and it may be a clue. Last summer was good for the woodland plants, not too hot, rain at regular intervals and so on. Then the winter was mild but with at least fair snow cover. This spring there were far more E. americanum blooms than usual. One patch that had one bloom other years had 12 this year.

I have moved several blooming plants into my garden, and they all bloomed again this spring, even the one that got pulled up by some critter and left to dry out on top of the soil. In one case the blooming plant is now surrounded by 5 small leaves. It'll be interesting to see if and when they bloom.

(How do you sign off on this thing??)

Gardening on a wooded rocky ridge in the Ottawa Valley, Canada. Cold winters (-30C) and hot, humid summers. Nuts about native plants, ferns, pottery, my family, and Border Collies.

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

Hi, Lis!  Welcome to the site!  
I don't have an answer to your cultivation question, but I did want to answer your question about how one "signs off".

You can simply type something, needless to say, to end off a message, or if you wish, you can go to the top of the page, and click on "Profile".  "Profile" shows you how your personal information will show up when you make postings.  If you wish, you can type your name, a message, or whatever, in the section called "Signature", and that will then serve as your "sign off" on postings you make.  (Of course, you can change it any time, later.)
All the best and I hope this helps!

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

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