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Planting eremerus

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I just got some eremerus tubers/bulbs today. I did some research on planting them and read they need a cold winter to bloom. What would happen if I could manage to find some loose soil to plant them soon while its still cold? Do you think they might bloom? And if I didn't plant them until digging conditions were better, would I only get foliage this year and bloom next year?


Thanks, D

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If they need a chilling period, that doesn't necessarily mean they have to be planted. That's how people in places like Atlanta grow spring bulbs with long chilling requirements - they put them (unplanted) into a fridge for the required chilling period, then plant them. 


Strangely, I can't find a good (cited or primary lit) source for a chilling period for eremurus, but at this point it's pretty moot. The amount of winter left is the amount of winter left - ya can't change it. I'd probably pack them up dahlia-style in the garage or other safe, cold place and plant them as soon as you can safely work the soil, unless someone with experience storing them has a better suggestion.


If they do flower, please post pics! It's one of those "I always wanted to try..." plants. 

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Depending on the size of the root you planted, it may not bloom its first year anyway. Eremerus ('Spring Valley', an E. himilaicus hybrid) that we planted into our Detroit Zoo garden in the fall of 2011 were fairly good sized roots -- we've seen both larger and smaller when we buy them). However each had just one growing point (the growing point root looks like a big, pale, chocolate kiss candy with a straw wrapper).  About 1/3 of those plants produced a flower the next spring (usually they bloom the last few days of May and last 2-3 weeks). The slackers didn't fail to bloom because of cold -- they all got enough cold hours below 40F -- it's because they just weren't quite big enough. They'll eventually bulk up and bloom.


This is a clump of Eremerus/foxtail lily that's in its second year of bloom. Of the new plants I just mentioned, even those that did bloom their first year didn't produce this well -- they showed us just one small bloom per stem.



Of importance in growing them, in our experience: Excellent drainage, a deep sandy bed that warms up early, a site that's on the dry side in summer, and avoiding digging in the area. The roots are fleshy, thick and quite shallow, and any digging around them breaks them, and sets the plant back perhaps to non blooming size. So double them up with a perennial like tall sedum or bush clover that blooms late and doesn't have to be dug and divided frequently, since every foray into that bed will mess with the Eremerus roots.


The blue arrows mark Eremerus roots I had to break in digging this Eremerus out to transplant it. Some belong to this plant, some to others in this bed. The roots of a single plant spread 18 inches or more -- here you're seeing over 12" -- and they are pretty brittle and only 2 or 3 inches deep. The orange arrow marks the start of a second growing point. When we see that we can be pretty sure it's a plant big enough to bloom.



Here's that plant with a different background and orange lines to help you see the chocolate kiss shape. Blue arrow's marking that new, second growing point.




In a good site, they're tough and very long lived. This last photo tells the story of one plant that had been in place at the blue arrow for about 5 years before it had concrete poured over it. (We hadn't been told they were going to remove and fill in the little jut in the fence line when they replaced the fence... if we had known it was going to happen we would've moved the plants in that spot: baby's breath, the foxtail lily and some blackberry lily.)


We just cried when we saw the concrete, and moved on. But the plants migrated -- the shoot from the growing point must have hit the concrete, bent to the warmer side, and found its way almost 36 inches east to the light. The first year it must've worn itself out getting that far, and not only not bloomed but not been very big because we missed its comeback until year 2 after the concrete incident. We saw it and realized, "Good heavens, it's back!"


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