Camassia esculenta - Conflicting Info

newbie_in_nj(6b E/Central NJ)September 10, 2009

I want to purchase Camassia esculenta (quamash) bulbs but am having trouble with growth parameters when looking at different sites.

Both Scheepers and Easy to Grow Bulbs offer 6+ cm bulbs but they differ on height.

Scheepers says they'll reach 15" and Easy to Grow Bulbs say they'll reach 26-30" more like the taller Camassia leichtlinii.

Which do I believe?

Having a number of plants hidden behind others that grew way beyond the quoted height and vice versa. I'm in a quandry. I know I can always move them but the less plants I have to add to the list of "movers" the better.

For same size bulbs they're cheaper at Scheepers.

Anyone have experience with these?

Thanks in advance for any information you can provide. :)

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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

I grew them last year for the first time. The bulbs came from Brent and Becky's. My memory says they were approximately 18 inches tall in bloom. However, this could easily vary by region and growing conditions. They're very pretty bulbs. I am hoping and hoping that they return for me this year. I got conflicting info on that...

    Bookmark   September 10, 2009 at 1:41PM
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newbie_in_nj(6b E/Central NJ)

Thanks very much, Donnabaskets!

There wasn't a single result in the GW search for Camassia information but I knew someone had to have grown them.

Pretty limited as far as bulbs go that are listed as deer & rodent resistant for shady, lightly moist places.

One of the Camassia leichtinii is also reportedly clay tolerant which would be a real coup...LOL.

Think I'm going to buy my Tulips this year from Costco since they've turned out to be annuals for me and save that online ordering money for things I won't have to spray with deer/rabbit repellant every morning!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2009 at 8:07AM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

I tried them last year for the first time. Mine were only about a foot tall this spring, if that. I hope they will be taller next year. Plus did not stand up, but rather lay along the ground. I was disappointed not just in the height. I thought the amount of actual petal was quite small relative to stem. Threadlike petalsÂTOO threadlike. I actually thought they had failed to come up at allÂthen looked closely and saw that they were actually there and in bloom!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2009 at 6:01PM
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newbie_in_nj(6b E/Central NJ)

Oh, don't tell me I'll have another mass of bulb foliage laying on the ground for slugs to demolish!

Thanks for your experience, linnea56. At least I'm now lowering my expectations for how much impact I'll get where I plant these particularly when I struggle with what will somewhat mask dying foliage when trying to site properly.

Just realized in past few days I can sprinkle Escargo and the like in the garden beds til the cows come home but they're all through the lawn so I may be fighting a losing battle. They love slimy, wet bulb foliage lying on the ground for months. I've still got Daffodial foliage from last Spring that hasn't browned/dried.

I won't look for a lush display of blue blooms this first year but will give them a chance to improve for second year. Don't have large beds where I can give minimal bloom color impact plants valuable space.

Maybe I'll include some of these in a "bulb layering" section I'm trying this year to save space.

Spanish bluebells may spread more than one wants but at least they provide some color...LOL.

Thanks again to both of you for sharing your experiences.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2009 at 4:17AM
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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

I moved my Camassia (now don't ask which sort, please!) last year from an area which dries out severely over summer to one which is in my 'water zone'.

They're up at the moment - about 15" in leaf and the flower stalks are starting to lengthen. They match English Iris for height when they are in full swing - maybe 20+".

They live on the cooler side of the persimmon and share space with a Hydrangea. Mostly afternoon sun and wind-sheltered. The soil is a silty clay and quite stiff until amended.

I've not found that the leaves droop. Again, very similar to Dutch Iris in habit.

Being on an island in the middle of the Roaring Forties, we don't get extremes of temperature (apart from a few inland locations). If you have 'bursting into spring' the results may be different.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2009 at 4:58AM
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ontnative(5b Can/USDA 4)

The various camassia bulbs seem to be very mixed up in "the trade" so far as I can tell. There is esculenta, quamash and leichtlinii, and sometimes one is sold as another, etc. The bigger the bulb, the taller it will grow. I have bought Holland imported bulbs that are maybe 1 1/4" diameter and these will grow 3 to 3 1/2 feet in my shaded garden (z.4 southern Ontario). I have had other tiny bulbs which disappear in the foliage of other plants and don't amount to anything. I don't know if this experience helps you or not. I really like these bigger bulbs, but the pastel flowers are not gaudy showstoppers, if that is what you are looking for.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 7:59PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

My cammasias definitely did not lay down on the ground. They stood very neatly and upright. Try to picture a tall spire. The blooms open gradually from the bottom to the top of the spire. Although they would be more dramatic if they all opened at once, the advantage to how they actually do it is I had color for maybe 3(?) weeks. I planted them in groups of 5 so that they would have more color impact. The information I had also said they like "wet zones", and this is my hope that they will return.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2009 at 11:33PM
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newbie_in_nj(6b E/Central NJ)

The listing on Scheepers IDs bulbs I purchased as 'Camassia quamash' (Syn: C. esculenta) with bulb size
6 cm/up growing to 15".

The Camassia leichtlinii are the larger bulbs running from 14-16 cm. Assume that accounts for their taller growth.

I wanted something shorter rather than up to 3' as I don't have that much space to put a few clusters among perennials and/or annuals in smallish beds.

I have to rearrange perennials since supposed sizes surprised me this year. Large not so large, small not so small and spreads beyond what I read in descriptions.

I want to get perennials I already have rearranged this Fall (best laid plans...) around same time I plant most bulbs and not risk slicing into them in Spring.

This being only my second year with perennials it's been a tough learning curve and I'm trying to keep bulbs that like dry summers away from perennials that need to get at least 1" of water per week. At least Camassia can supposedly take some moisture which gives me some leeway among perennials and annuals.

Now I just have to keep the deer from eating them in early spring as I just learned on Lady Bird Johnson site. Hope rabbits and groundhogs don't like them!

Thank you for sharing your experiences.

I need all the help I can get. :)

    Bookmark   October 3, 2009 at 5:14PM
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