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Camassia Planting Guide

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Edible, Unforgettable
Camassia

Strains of camassia have grown wild the northwestern United States for centuries. These were a traditional food for native Americans who roasted the roots to eat as vegetables and also boiled them to produce a sweet, molasses-like treat. The treat for travelers who have visited Oregon and Washington in the late spring is not the taste of these plants but the breathtaking swaths of powder to violet blue that can be seen festooning fields along the highways. You can grow these sparkling spires in your landscape, too. With the right site - sunny and moist, or drier with a little shade - they'll thrive on benign neglect. And it's that just what busy gardeners are looking for, right?




Outdoor Beds
  1. Find a location where the soil drains well. If there are still water puddles 5-6 hours after a hard rain, scout out another site. Or amend the soil with the addition of organic material to raise the level 2-3" to improve the drainage. Peat moss, compost, ground bark or decomposed manure all work well and are widely available. Camassia are one of the few bulbs you'll find on this website that will grow in soil that's moist more of the time. For these beauties, perfect drainage isn't a requirement.
  2. Site your camassia where they will receive full sun if the soil is moist. In slightly dried soils camassia can be grown in areas that receive 4-5 hours of direct sunlight.
  3. Dig holes and plant the camassia bulbs 4" deep and 8-10" apart. The bulbs are rounded, with small pointy ends. Plant the points facing upwards. For best naturalizing results leave the plants undisturbed; they'll be fine for years in the same spot.
  4. After planting, water the camassia well, gently soaking the soil to settle it around the bulbs. Roots and some foliage will form in the autumn. Buds are produced in late spring and and flowers in early summer.
  5. When in bloom, feel free to cut the flowers for bouquets. This will not hurt the plants.
  6. After blooming has finished for the season leave the foliage in place; don't cut it off. The leaves will gather sunlight, create food through photosynthesis and strengthen the bulbs for the future. Water as needed during active growth periods; about 1" of moisture per week is a good estimate.
  7. By mid summer the leaves may yellow and die back as the plant slips into dormancy. Foliage many be removed at this point. Your camassia will rest for a few months before beginning the next growing cycle.
Pots, Barrels, Tubs & Urns

Camassi prefer to grow undisturbed. These are not the best plants to use for containers.




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