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Brodiaea

Classified and reclassified under Brodiaea, Dichelostemma and Triteleia over time, Brodiaea is the classification that we’ve decided to stick with to avoid even more confusion. These deer-resistant naturalizers, circa 1800, were named after Scottish horticulturist James Brodie. Commonly referred to as The Fool’s Onions, these 19th century heirlooms are native to California and are best grown in moist, fertile, well-draining soil in full sun to partial sunlight (never shade) with winter and spring moisture and summer dryness. Unlike most bulbs, it can handle, and may even prefer, soil that has a bit of moisture, but never in a spot that gets waterlogged at any time. A prized cut flower, Brodiaea has star-shaped or tubular flowers and grass-like foliage. Brodiaea will naturalize readily if it’s happy where it’s planted and left undisturbed. Brodiaea naturalizes by bulb offsets (called bulbils: baby bulbs on the sides of the mother bulb you’ve planted). It’s terrific planted en masse in sunny woodland borders, natural wild flower settings and rock gardens (that have moisture-retentive soil). Since it’s not tremendously hardy, you may want to apply no more than a 2 inch layer of mulch after the surface of the ground freezes to protect it from winter temperature spiking in the event of inconsistent snow coverage.

You’ll need nine bulbs per square foot. (Square footage is determined multiplying the planting site’s length times its width.) Top size bulbs. Full to partial sunlight. Height: 14” to 24”, depending on the variety. Bloom time in horticultural zone 5: May/June. Plant 4” deep and 3” to 4” apart. HZ: 6-9.

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