Camassia

Camassia

Attractive, early flowering perennials, which bear tall spikes of starry blue or white flowers. Very easy to grow. They will thrive in most soils, in either sun or light shade. Camassias are not as popular as other spring flowering bulbs in the UK, but are steadily becoming more widely grown.

Family: Asparagaceae
Botanical Name: Camassia
Common Names: Quamash, Wild hyacinths

Foliage: Tapered, narrow, channeled green leaves. Deciduous (dies back after flowering).

Flowers: Tall erect stems, topped with racemes (loose spikes) of attractive, star-shaped flowers, usually in shades of blue or white.

Flowering Period: Late spring to early summer.

Soil: Moist but well-drained, fertile, humus-rich soil. Any pH.

Conditions: Full sun or partial shade. Plant in a south, east or west facing aspect, in either an exposed or sheltered location.

Habit: Upright, clump forming.

Type: Bulbous perennial.

Origin: North America.

Hardiness: Hardy in most regions of the UK.

Planting and Growing Camassia

Plant bulbs in the autumn (September to October). Depth 4in (10cm), spacing 6in (15cm). Site the bulbs where they can be left undisturbed to spread and naturalise.

These extremely hardy bulbs thrive in poor soils, in which other bulbs tend to struggle, and can be successfully naturalised in grass. They look particularly impressive when planted in large drifts. Camassias are also good in large containers and make ideal cut flowers.

Taking Care of Camassia

Require very little attention once established, except for watering in very dry weather.

Remove faded flower spikes. Top dress with leaf mould every spring and lift and divide every three or four years.

Pests and Diseases

Generally pest and disease free.

Propagating Camassia

Lift mature clumps in autumn, divide or remove offsets and replant immediately.

Seeds can be sown as soon as they are ripe. However, offsets and seedlings can take several years to reach flowering size.

Popular Varieties of Camassia

Camassia cusickii (Cussick's camas) has greyish-green, arching leaves with pale blue or pink flowers, in early summer. Stake on exposed sites. Height 3ft (90cm), spread 1.5ft (45cm).

Camassia leichtlinii (large camas) the most striking species, has erect rich green leaves, with violet, blue or white flowers in early summer. Height 3 to 4ft (90 to 120cm), spread to 1.5ft (45cm). Available at You Garden. Good cultivars include: 'Atroviolacea', 'Eve Price', and 'Orion', all have purple-blue flowers. 'Plena' is a good double form with creamy-white flowers.

Camassia quamash (small camas, common camas) has slender, pale to mid-green leaves, and blue or white flowers in early summer. Best in full sun. Height to 2ft (60cm), spread to 1ft (30cm).