When I asked for suggestions on using Colchicums in the garden, not many could tell me how to avoid the bad effects of the plant’s ample foliage. Recently, however, a belated note came telling of one gardener’s method of enjoying the plant – not as a garden subject, to be sure, but still a way to enjoy it without messing up the garden with a lot of yellow foliage.
She said, in part, “I plant the bulbs in an out-of-the-way sunny spot that we call the ‘nursery.’ As soon as the foliage disappears, the bulbs are dug and stored in a cool shed until August; then we pot them up, as many as will go comfortably in each pot, and put them in the window of an unfrequented room until the flower bubbles commence to show.
They are then put in the window garden where we can enjoy the flowers. After blooming, they are returned to the nursery.
OF all the iris cousins, I think I like sparaxis best for flowering in pots. They are a little taller than freesias, to be sure, and are therefore more difficult to keep upright, but the flowers are generally larger, flatter and more colorful. I think you will find them a pleasant surprise.
Order them and get them in the soil by late October. Plant five or six an inch deep in a 5-inch pot; put them in a cool dark spot until top growth demands light, when they should be transferred to a cool (50 to 60) room, giving them full sun when returned to light.
Landscape gardeners may be divided into two classes: the impatient ones who demand immediate effects and the curious ones who like to grow all their plants from seeds, regardless of the time needed to bring them to fruition. To the former, bulbs of the lily-cousin, Ixiolirion montanum, are to be recommended; to the latter seeds will be wel-come.
In either case, the final result should be a revelation of beauty when the 18-inch plants hang out their showy, starry trumpets of blue in May and June. Although often spoken of in the literature as half-hardy it proved fully hardy, just like the woody angel trumpet plant, in protected places and should be hardy in most sections.
Considering their ease of culture, if you can supply them plenty moisture until they are through flowering, and the gratifying rewards for that little care, it is not easy to understand why camassias are not found in every garden. There is, for instance, C. leichtlini, in a blue form. Give it a rather heavy, moist soil in part shade (full sun will do) and watch it reach up to 3 or 4 feet with a myriad blue (lavender to deep blue) stars in spring. They are excellent for cutting, opening up to the end of the stem in water. Plant them this fall for best results.