Gardening

Camassia Cusickii, Camas: Striking Blue Flowers In May And June

Camassia Cusickii, Camas: Striking Blue Flowers In May And June

Camas

Photo Compliments of Kingsbrae Garden

Camassia cusickii goes by a variety of common names such as: Camassia, Quamash, Cusick’s Camas, wild hyacinth, and wild blue hyacinth, as well as just camas. The tulip is probably the dominate early spring bloomer, but there are other bulbs that can add something beautiful and different to your borders, such as camas, at a time when the summer perennials have not yet hit their stride.

Plants grow from rounded, tunicate bulbs and produce grassy clumps of narrow, lance-shaped 12 to 24 inch long leaves.  Leaves are long, linear, wavy margined, and ridged (1 to 2 inches wide); they are mid-green on the outside and bluish within. They begin to develop at the end of winter so are well established at flowering time.

During spring the pale green flower stems shoot up to about 24 to 30 inches tall and produce many star-shaped flowers that open from the bottom upwards. Flowers consist of 6 petals, each ½ to 1 inches long. The flowers are a gorgeous pale blue and about 2 inches across, with slightly curved petals, and very prominent golden stamens. The flowering of your camas will last about three weeks from start to finish.  During bloom time they are a striking element in your garden.  Camas also makes a very good cut flower for your bouquets.

How To Make Your Camas Thrive

Camas grows best in sun or partial shade. The bulbs should be planted in early autumn, at least 4 inches deep and about 6 inches apart, in humus-rich soil which retains its moisture without becoming waterlogged in winter. In very cold areas, the soil should be mulched to protect the bulbs from harsh weather.

General Camas Information

Pests and Diseases

Camas is prone to fungal leaf spots and leaf smut.

Propagation

You can propagate by removing the offsets that have formed round the main bulbs and replanting them individually; do this in summer when they are dormant. Alternatively, sow collected seed in a tray when it is ripe in summer and set them out in a cold frame.

Garden Uses

Camas works well in your borders, containers, or in a wild flower meadow.

Plant this bulb against a background that will allow the pale flowers to stand out.  Suggested shrubs include Berberis thunbergii ‘Rose Glow’; Photinia x fraseri ‘Red Robin’; and Choisya ternata.  You will enjoy this plant when it is located in borders with forget-me-nots, bleeding hearts, spring snowflakes, solomon’s seal, and in sun with early-flowering geraniums, and aquilegias. Camas is also ideal in a meadow where they are quite striking with buttercups, cowslips, and the late-flowering pheasant’s eye.

Quick Facts

  • Family: Asparagaceae
  • Botanical Name: Camassia cusickii
  • Plant Types: Bulb, perennial
  • Light: Partial shade to full sun
  • Height: 24 to 36 inches
  • Width: 24 to 48 inches
  • Hardiness Zones: Zone 3 to 9
  • Bloom Color: Blue
  • Bloom Seasons: May to early June
  • Leaf Color: Blue, green
  • Soil: Well-drained, fertile, humus rich soil
  • Fertilizer: Composted yard trimmings
  • Resists: Deer

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2 Comments

  1. I have always loved these. Didn’t even think that they were grown as domestics! They would be beautiful!

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