Growing Cobra Lilies (Darlingtonia californica) in WA

damonedwards(8)March 16, 2010

I am new to much of any kind of gardening, but I would love to try planting some cobra lilies out back behind my house. We have a pretty marshy area in the back behind a small trout stream and from what research I have done, it appears that this area is somewhat conducive to the plants native environment. Does anyone here have any experience with this plant in an area such as mine? Thanks!


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You're basically where they come from - maritime Pac NW. They should do well for you.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 11:53AM
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What do you mean by a marshy area?
What is the soil like? How much sun exposure?
Does water move through the area or just sits there?
What is growing there now?
Darlingtonias do not occur in WA and are restricted to just
the border region of the Coast Ranges of California and Oregon.
What you really need to do first is to change that marshy area into a bog that will support Sphagnum moss. If the Sphagnum moss cannot grow there then forget about growing Darlingtonia there until you can resolve whatever cultural issues are needed to be dealt with concerning the Sphagnum moss.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 10:30PM
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By the way folks, there are new laws in California regarding Darlingtonia. Can't be sold without a permit AND the way the law is written they MAY be illegal to own as well. This is per the folks at Stay tuned......

    Bookmark   March 17, 2010 at 4:59PM
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Really don't have a clue on what tommyr is talking about.
What laws I know about pertain to wild collected plants which require permission from private landowners or a permit from the state on state owned property. The genus is not listed on the state endangered plant list.
Whatever legal changes have occured have not been noted on the CNPS website and would have been if of any consequence.
If there are changes in CA state law they would probably be similar to the laws that Oregon have on their books.
See the link to read the entire text of the regulation.
What Oregon does not prohibit is possession. It laws are geared towards protecting natural stands of the species.
Certification that all commercially available plants are
nursery grown would be a big plus. Yet because the interest in this type of plant is really limited, the real danger to any natural populations would be from various human activities in their range of occurrence rather than from overcollection as tends to be the case with native orchids.
Since is based in Oregon it would not be subject to California's laws.

If I find out otherwise, will update.

Here is a link that might be useful: Oregon law affecting Darlingtonia

    Bookmark   March 17, 2010 at 10:02PM
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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

I concur with t man. Seems the law is flawed and doesn't count cultured plants which are the plants sold by nurseries. They are looking to resolve the flaws come fall.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 8:31PM
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In response to terrestrial man:

- The area to the right of the stream in the photo is marshy- it holds water back in some places, is muddy in others. The area on the left is much more solid, yet is still moist
- The soil is rich and black, some clay here and there. I'd say sunlight is probably 60% in most areas.
- The water moves non-stop, it is an active stream year round.
- There is a ton of Skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus) growing in the back area now as well as Sphagnum moss, several large Alders as well as some smaller bushes and plants I have yet to identify.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 10:43AM
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Your site looks ideal. The presence of the Skunk Cabbage suggests a soil composition that is organically rich in nutrients that have siltated into the area and probably where water tends to stand for prolonged periods of time. Look to see where the sphagnum grows in relation to the Symplocarpus. In fact you may want to draw a "floor plan" of the area noting roughly where can be found whatever is there and indicating the wettest spots and the driest spots. Have you checked out the water in the stream?
To find out its pH, presence of organics, etc. and to find out what lies upstream that could imperil the colony.
The site appears to be subjected to winter flooding and for this reason I would suggest that you find a location that lies protected from any strong flooding surges but one that is accessible to the existing creek via an intake channel and an outflow channel back into the creek.
You will need to do some digging and measure out an area for the population to begin in. Dig out the top 12 to 18 inches and refill with a 50 50 mix of creek sand and and peat moss. Be sure the channel to the site is higher than the growing site and outflow slightly lower. This will take some adjustments but I suggest the inflow coming from the upstream portion and the outflow routed to the downstream portion of the creek-either need not be deep, maybe 2 to 3 inches to do the job. You will have to experiment.
Once you get all of this done and the water is moving into and out of your bog and the bog is stable introduce some of the sphagnum moss you have growing there into the bog and see how it fares. You could also introduce a Darlingtonia as an experiment to see what happens. If it takes and looks healthy then go for more as you desire.
Here are several links I recommend you either Favorite to read later or print out as suits you.
Darlingtonia around Florence, Oregon

US Forest Service-Darlingtonia

Robert Ziemer Field Observations

SF State Biogeography of Darlingtonia

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 9:46PM
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