Camassia in the South?

donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)May 3, 2008

Last month's Horticulture Magazine had an article on blue spired flowers written by someone from Alabama. Camassia leichtlinii, Blue Danube were recommended, so I promptly added them to my order list for fall bulbs. Last night I was perusing Scott Ogden's Garden Bulbs for the South, and he said that camassias are always a total washout in the "deep south", which makes me wonder how deep? I live in east central Mississippi, about halfway up the state from the Gulf. Anyone grow camassias with success this far south? They are $1.75 per bulb, and I don't want to just waste money. But on the other hand, if they will do here, I truly do love blue spires! :)

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I have grown only Camassia scilloides(Atlantic camas), which, BTW, is native in your area also. The seed apparantly came into my garden as hitchikers, because I had never planted them. I must have destroyed them, when I excavated for a bog in that area, because I haven't seen them lately.
C. leichtlinii is a West coast species, but grows as far south as Southern CA(Zone 9). I generally shy away from the Western plant Genera & species, because our soil and climate is much different and not many will adapt to the growing conditions here.

I couldn't locate my copy of the Magazine to read the article and most importantly, to determine the author's name. There is one writer from AL, that is a regular contributor to garden magazines, that is tops on my list of "Garden Writers to be Ignored".

Maybe someone in your area can chime in with personal experience of growing this species. Or, you could try them and report your experience!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 2:09AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

I grew the Camassia leichtlinii for about 4 years before it disappeared. I thought it was very attractive and don't know why it stopped returning. Al

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 8:40AM
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karen__w(z7 Durham, NC)

I grow Camassia cusickii out in my meadow -- it's persisted for at least 5 years but blooms erratically. The foliage is very lush and attractive, though. C. leichtlinii 'Alba' has been a more reliable bloomer, at least for the 3 years I've had it. I'm in zone 7a here, close to the 7a/b edge, not what I would consider 'deep'.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 12:16PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

razorback, the author of the article is Carol Bishop Miller. They usually say where the authors garden, but in this issue, they only said Alabama. Needless to say, Alabama is so large that it has three different climate zones, as does Mississippi.

Karen, your results are encouraging, but I live at the very bottom of 7B, almost in 8.

I appreciate all your input. I will continue to hope someone else chimes in, and if not, I will have to decide. If I do grow them, I will report back.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 1:12PM
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That's the one!
Lives in Huntsville. Does she garden? I seriously doubt it!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 5:58PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

That's helpful to know. Huntsville is nearly 200 miles north of here. Yikes. Now I have to decide how much I want to gamble. :)

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 6:11PM
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Since Camas scilloides is native in your area and other areas further south in AL, MS, LA & TX(near the Rio Grande River), There is a very good possibility that C. leichtlinii would be able to survive there also.
It's too bad that Mr. Ogden didn't find it necessary to list USDA Hardiness Zones when referring to the "deep south", but I would assume he meant Zones 9 and higher, since no native populations are found in those areas. None are native in FL and the Gulf coastal regions.

Would you mind sharing the source that has them for $1.75?
I checked several bulb cos. and the best price I found was about $2.25, in quanity. One was asking more than $4.00 ea.
I may try them in my Zone 7/8(borderline) garden. I'm probably a few miles north of you, maybe about the same parallel as Columbus. MS.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 2:54AM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Brent and Becky's Bulbs is where I found that price. You have to order 10. I think I am going to go ahead and accept the order and try them and see. What's $17.50 among friends? Southern Living divides the South into its own zones (Upper, Middle, Lower, Coastal, Tropical). According to THEM I live in the Lower South. Ogden gardens in south Texas, so what I am hoping is that when he said Lower South, he was referring to his zone, rather than to the Southern Living zone. At worst, I'm bound to get at least one year out of them, and it's more than possible to pay more than $1.75 for an annual these days. I'll report back next year!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 8:49PM
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Donna -
Thanks for the info.
The the reason I didn't find them listed for that price is, i didn't look at B&B Bulbs, as I no longer patronize them.
You place an order now, you pay now and you receive the bulbs whenever they decide to send them, probably late Oct or early Nov, for your Zone.
Both are very irritating practices to me and cost my Garden Club a lot of money in lost bulb sales, when they ignored our requested ship date.
I found a source for 'Coerulea', which is described as a "vivid" blue, at 10/$16.00. I may try those, when the rains return. Since all of the Camas need moist soil, it would be foolish to try to grow them here now, as we are in an exceptional and continuing drought, and a total outdoor watering ban for past 6 months. The soil is now very dry and it may requre normal rainfall for a year(or more) to replace the lost moisture.
Rainbarrels are not a solution, as rainfall is necessary to fill them!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 10:06AM
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Van Engelen has 8 varieties of Camassia for $1.25 each and up

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 11:13PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Two years later, I am happy to report that all ten of my Camassias reappeared this spring and were truly lovely. I have since learned that these bulbs like soils that never dry out. I think I have the perfect bed for them. It is well amended, well drained, but heavy clay, and it gets water each time the lawn does, since my in ground sprinkler system was designed by a non-gardener, and I didn't know any better.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 6:57PM
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