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Trillium project

Posted by jebfarm 5 (My Page) on
Thu, Jan 16, 14 at 8:00

Hello all -

Here is a picture of some of the trillium I have propagated - I felt this place needed a little midwinter lift, something to get you thinking about spring!
This started back in 1987 with one plant - the variety is 'Otis Bigelow' one of the flore - pleno cultivars of Trillium grandiflorum. After a couple of years getting established in my garden the plant grew into a nice clump and I divided it during a brave moment. The plants all thrived, I joined a trillium discussion group on the web and found the ideal soil mix to use for container growing and have been producing potted material (and bare root material) for local nurseries and for seasonal retail sales at a farmer's market for many years now.
Every winter I cross my fingers and hope that my trillium make it through without damage from rodents and so far there hasn't been a problem - I attribute that to the hunting skills of my cat, who keeps the vole populations down.
I guess I am 'showing off' a bit here, attempting to get you excited about native plants. Please understand that I am not advertising these plants for sale, just trying to possibly get an intelligent native plant conversation started!

- Jeb


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Trillium project

Those are beautiful! I moved into a house 2 years ago that has a lovely collection of Trillium. I don't know what species, but they have been multiplying by seeds. I hope I will have a patch as nice as yours some day.

Martha


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RE: Trillium project

  • Posted by dbarron Z6/7 (Oklahoma) (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 17, 14 at 9:01

Those are beautiful. I had a T grandiflora (single normal flower) that I was proud had over 6 years or so, divided itself into 3 crowns (lol).
At least it flowered every year and was slowly increasing. However, that looks like nothing to your clump :)


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RE: Trillium project

So, please tell how you manage to propagate them. I'm all ears.


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RE: Trillium project

Dandy - my plants that have formed clumps are dug when they are going dormant for the season, and that is usually sometime in late August or September. The rhizome of a trillium will have a main center growth with the offsets clustered around it - I have never divided them with a knife, instead I break them apart with my hands making a natural division where the roots most easily split when given pressure. Each division has to have a growing point or eye for the following year's leafy growth. Knock on wood, I haven't lost any of the divisions to disease or any critters. I have my stock plants growing in ground beds where the soil is a well drained sandy loam - I fertilize them at least once early in the season with Millorganite which keeps them nice and green and also helps keep the deer away. (Trillium = deer candy) To be extra safe I throw netting over the plants and haven't lost any of them to grazers.
The plants in my first pic are actually growing in pots, the soil mix used is called Fafard 52 which is a soil mix used in the perennial production industry - trillium seem right at home in it, but are at their best when growing in the ground with real soil. There is nothing magic or secret to growing trillium - it is pretty simple and straight forward stuff. One key factor is patience, they grow slowly at first settling in and becoming established, but once they are given the conditons they like, they will take off and multiply fairly quickly.
Here is another shot of some of my troupe, the smaller plants in the background are growing in 3 1/2" sized pots (all needing to be shifted into larger pots) and the plants in the front are happily growing in 4 1/2 X 5" pots.My potted material gets put into a trench in the autumn and covered with soil for the winter - when signs of life return in the spring they are dug up and put in a spot that gets half a day of direct morning and later afternoon filtered sunshine. They are shade plants but I think the more sun you can give them without burning them the better. Thanks for all the nice compliments.

This post was edited by jebfarm on Sat, Jan 18, 14 at 14:33


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RE: Trillium project

Wonderful to look at, and it represents good work on your part.

I invested in buying the doubles one year, but although the leaves return, I have never had a flower. No problem with other Trilliums. I am going to try using the fertilizer you suggested (thanks!) as I have so many deer on the property. If I remember to spray, they leave the Trilliums alone, but if I forget to repeat the application, the deer are back within two months.

Oh, here in zone 7 my T. decipens are already up, in spite of our recent 6 degree weather a few weeks ago.

Thanks for brightening our cold winter days.


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RE: Trillium project

Those are so beautiful. I just added T. recurvatum and T. sessile last year. My luteum is making a huge clump. Now I want to add more after seeing your wonderful display. Thanks for sharing.


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RE: Trillium project

I've been looking for native "bulbs". I purchased some trillium corms, among others. Unfortunately the place I purchased them from has erratic shipping policies and they arrived at bad times of year (late summer and winter) and were tiny. I planted them under some trees and bushes near the driveway. We'll see if any survive my mistretment.


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RE: Trillium project

  • Posted by dbarron Z6/7 (Oklahoma) (My Page) on
    Thu, Feb 13, 14 at 17:47

Actually for spring ephemerals, that's excellent planting time.


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RE: Trillium project

Trillium are fairly tough plants as long as they have good drainage. I have dug and moved the plants from the time they sprout in the spring to when they are dormant in the summer, but it is always best (and easiest) not fool around with them unless they are dormant. The rhizomes should have a healthy root system attached to them year - round, sort of like a true lily bulb.
I was fortunate as a kid to have had the woods and ravines I used to visit full of Trillium grandiflorum. The hill sides were covered with white in the spring - it was a real treat for me, and is a wonderful memory.
Here is another pic of 'Otis Bigelow.'


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RE: Trillium project

  • Posted by dbarron Z6/7 (Oklahoma) (My Page) on
    Fri, Feb 14, 14 at 9:30

Nice close up...I think I prefer the single form though. I find the same in peonies and sometimes roses (though I do like the tight cup double forms).


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RE: Trillium project

Thanks - I agree with with you that most flowers are more graceful and attractive when single petaled, it is somehow easier on your aesthetics. Double flowered forms of some things last longer in the garden, and that is a plus but give me single flowered hollyhocks over those foofy looking doubles! My favorite rose of all time is Betty Prior and it is a single that is visually amazing. It is all a matter of taste, and that varies a lot. Now I have that song stuck in my head "Everything is beautiful, in its own waaa - aaaay."


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RE: Trillium project

  • Posted by dbarron Z6/7 (Oklahoma) (My Page) on
    Fri, Feb 14, 14 at 12:19

Well again, some of the hollyhocks have a tight cup shape double that I like...but in general, oh yeah...singles :)
In fact, I really should order some seeds for a good strain of Alcea ficifolia....singles of course :)


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RE: Trillium project

Nice work, Jeb. One thing occurred to me reading this thread, and that is, I wonder what, if any connections may exist between this and other woodland understory plants, and micorrhyzal fungi. After all, as time goes on, research is unearthing a vast and seemingly ubiquitous array of these symbiotic associates, and woodlands are full of such relationships.

On the other hand, your tech just the way it is seems to be a great success, so maybe this is unnecessary. Or, maybe spores are floating aorund in your production area such that the fungi are colonizing the growing media in your pots.

Just a thought..........I have a great interest in such matters.

+oM


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RE: Trillium project

Thanks for the compliment +om. There has to be some kind of connection with the organisms in the soil to the plant life it supports. I have a confession to make - I am 5th generation on the family farm, and my trillium propagation beds are located where my great - great grandparents started dumping cow manure (from the family's milk cow) and chicken manure 125 years ago. The area I live in used to be a big producer of potatoes and the soil is very loose and friable. Most things grow here fairly well and some can get out of control if not watched. Still fighting wisteria and trumpet vine. I have seen the mycorrhizal fungus here eat everything from cardboard to a full bale of straw in about a year and a half if the ground stays moist enough. The funny thing is that there usually isn't a large volume of humus left as a result. I am wondering if I possibly have exotic introduced earthworms eating it all - but that is a whole other topic! In areas that I plant out in the field I see irregular shaped rings and ribbons of mycelium growing on the exposed soil out in the full sun. When the moisture levels are right I have found white threads under the flats that I have the trillium growing in now that you mention it. As you know all healthy soil is very alive - it can almost be compared to the life forms found in the oceans - who knows what medicines and cures or undiscovered chemicals are in the ground. It is something to think about. There is so much more that we don't know than what we do!


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RE: Trillium project

Interesting observations. As regards earthworms, I was just at a seminar where I learned, much to my surprise, that pretty much all of the earthworms we see, for example here in the state of Wisconsin, are imported species. I'm still sorting this out. I knew the larger nightcrawlers were non-native, but so too are the semi-transparent mid-sized, and most of the little red worms too. Crazy stuff. Talk about a successful invasion!

And the point with that is that in forest ecosystems, organic debri is indeed being recycled much faster than was formerly true. As a gardener with a proclivity towards organic growing methods, etc. I always viewed worms as our friends. I'm much less sure of that now.

As regards micorrhyzal associates, this, I think, is one of the most fascinating things going on-seperate fungal species working with seperate tree species, etc. Just almost unbelievable. And things like chemical fertilizers, do no good in fostering such relationships. To break things down to a simple level-and this is for forest trees-what seems to be happening is that these fungal associates are more efficient than are tree roots at extracting primarily phosphates from the soil. They supply the fine feeder roots with this mineral nutrient, and the trees in turn supply the symbiotic fungus with carbohydrates-photosynthate, or sugars-in return. I do know that amongst my favorite conifer species, there is a separate species of bolete-a visible mushroom-which works in concert. So white pine will have one kind of mushroom under it in the fall, and tamarack another, etc.

I've got fairy rings under pine and cedar in my woods in N.E. WI. I have not yet ID'd the species of mushroom, but it is almost surely micorrhyzal with one or more of those tree types.

Keep up the good growing! I'm more of a single-flower guy too, but variety is indeed the spice of life. And more importantly, just having a growing system that is working for a normally finicky native forb is quite an achievement!

+oM


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RE: Trillium project

Wow, I need to find a source to get some of these. Very showy! Or trade for some, something. Very nice and thank you for sharing with us - they are lovely and obviously you are doing a great job with them!


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RE: Trillium project

Whoa, never mind. Googling up sources suggests these are way out of my price range, haha. Enjoy! They are lovely.


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