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Camassia Will Tolerate Poorly Drained Sites

Camassias are delightful when grouped together in the garden or in a vase.

Camassia leichtlinii.

Camassias are native bulbs that follow the bloom cycle of well-known bulbs, like daffodils and tulips, and flower later.

They are under-utilized in most of our gardens. This may be because they like moisture, and our summers lately have been drier then we would like. All camassias, and there are several species, bear small, starry flowers on tall stems and look a bit like skinny hyacinth flower spires. Their colors are cool and paler than most hyacinths and are predominantly blue, pink, pale purple and white.

These graceful bloomers prefer alkaline soil and consistent moisture to flower well. Their leaves form basal clusters and are long and narrow. Camassia bulbs are planted in the fall and will grow in beds or grass, beside ponds and between shrubs and are hardy in zones 4 and 5. They spread by seed or division.

Like cannas, they will tolerate wet sites where other bulbs would rot. This is useful to remember if you have a poorly drained spot in your yard. C. leichtlinii is a vigorous variety that grows four-and-a-half feet tall with racemes of flowers that range from deep violet-blue to white. ‘Alba’ is a creamy white form that shows up well if planted by a dark evergreen yew or a deciduous shrub with burgundy foliage.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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