Spanish Bluebells/Camassia

lvmygrdn1(7)September 20, 2013

What is your experience with these plants? Are they invasive? I love the look of them in catalogs but wanted to get some real opinions. Thank you, Ree in MD

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Camassia is native to western North America and, as far as I know, is not aggressive. I planted some bulbs in my coastal NJ garden a few years ago and, unfortunately, they didn't return for subsequent seasons. Author Laura Schenone mentions that this plant was important to western Native American culture and diet. (I really like having plants with a history, especially if they're native, in my garden.)

Spanish bluebells (hyacinthoides hispanica), however, is proving to be a problem here in the U.S. as well as in Great Britain, where it has hybridized with the native English bluebells and the hybrid, more vigorous than both parents, is threatening to wipe out both. Link for plants to watch in the mid-Atlantic region is below, and an article on the English problem is at:

We have some bluebells native to our general region, Virginia bluebells (mertensia virginica), that you may want to look into if you can provide for their cultural needs.

Some other great blues, though not native, are borage and comfrey (Treat this one like mint and plant in a deep, bottomless nursery pot as it does spread vigorously. I pull all extra plants that pop up and put them on the compost pile - the deep taproots of these plants mine nutrients from deep in the soil and the nitrogen-rich leaves act as an accelerator for the compost.) There are also some lovely blues in the lungworts (pulmonaria), which only bloom in spring, but some have lovely silver-spotted leaves that brighten the shade all season long.

Here is a link that might be useful: Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 12:11PM
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Thank you agardenstateof_mind for your thorough post. I appreciate you taking the time to reply. I just added 25 Camassia to my bulb order. I love the color and I hear they are deer resistant. I do like the idea of native as they tend to do better. I have experienced mint - oh my goodness!! I learned the hard way. I like the idea of the bottomless pot to keep it in check. I will look into borage and comfrey.

On a side note, I'm a Jersey girl as well - south Jersey. Moved to Maryland in '99. TMI I know.

Thank you again.


    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 1:30PM
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I love Camassia also..the single blue. I have had trouble with the double white. It seems to not open fully and then turn brown. I have moved it and it still does not perform. There is a light blue that is lovely.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 9:26AM
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Hi Shadeyplace, I ordered a single blue (purplish blue). Where in your garden do you find works well for Camassia. I'm in Maryland as well. I have a south facing garden but I have a large tree that does provide some shade. Some areas get a lot of afternoon sun, some all day sun, some mostly shade. I will look at the planting instructions but I like getting opinions from people who have had success. I received an email that my order has shipped. YAY! I really wanted tulips but so do the deer so I passed on them.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 6:54AM
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