Camassia – Planting, Care and Propagation Methods

Camassia is a flower in the lily family. It is named after a North American Indian tribe that used to eat the root vegetables of some species of plant. The genus consists of five species. They grow in the wild in mountain meadows and slopes in the temperate zone of North America and western Canada. In the 19th century, they were brought to Europe. Here it was accepted, but the camassia flower gained little recognition. Even now, it is rarely seen in gardens in flowerbeds.

Camassia is a bulbous perennial. The bulbs are egg-shaped, 9-12 cm long, and 5-12 cm in diameter. They are covered with light brown scales on top. The roots are perennial. Leaves are linear, elongate-lanceolate or strap-shaped, green or grayish-green, and 8 to 20 cm long. Leaves appear long before flowering. The peduncle is leafless, varying in height from 20 cm to 1m numerous star-shaped flowers in apical, brushy inflorescences. The perianth has 6 narrow petals. The flowers vary in shades of blue, blue, and purple. Camassia is also rare, with white flowers. It blooms in late spring/early summer for 10-15 days.

Propagation of Camassia

Seeds and daughter bulbs propagate Camassias. After flowering, the leaves begin to turn yellow and desiccate. At this time, it is time to dig it out. Do not cut the roots off the bulbs. Dry them in a well-ventilated room at a temperature of 20-22 C⁰ for 3 weeks. Store at a storage temperature of +16-18°C⁰ in any shady and ventilated place.

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Camassia can grow for 5 to 6 years in one location without dividing. Plant the bulbs in August or early September. The planting depth is 12-15 cm, and the spacing is 15 cm. Plants can be planted immediately after being dug up. To do this, dig out carefully and divide without damaging the roots.

Seed propagation of camassia is a longer process. It produces more new plants than seedling propagation. Once the plants have finished flowering, they form capsules with 5 to 10 black seeds. They are sown immediately to a depth of 2 cm. The seeds are watered and mulched. The seedlings will flower in the 3rd to 4th year.

Planting Camassia

Camassia grows and flowers best in full sun or semi-shade. A little shade does not harm the camassia: it will form taller flower stalks and flower longer but a little less profusely. The plant is undemanding to the soil, but the soil should retain moisture. It will do well in heavy soils but will be killed by stagnant waterlogging, particularly in winter and spring. When planting camassia in flower gardens you should remember that it loses its decorative value after flowering and comes to a standstill in late July/early August before its above-ground parts completely die off. The best neighbors for it are plants that can cover the withering leaves and fill in the gaps.

Plant out and sow camassia in late autumn. Before planting, fill light soils with humus, peat, or loam (4-5 kg per m²). In sandy soils, plant the bulbs to a depth of 3 bulb diameters; in heavy soils, plant the bulbs 2 diameters deeper.

Camassia can also be planted in autumn because it requires a long cold stratification period (up to 5 months). However, some gardeners prefer to sow the seeds immediately after maturing. Seedlings start to flower in the 4th or 5th year.

Care of Camassias

Camassias require minimal care – weeding and hoeing. Water during flowering as needed. They are hardy, but young plants should be covered over the winter with a thin layer of peat (3-4 cm) or leaves (10-12 cm). Remove the mulch in spring.

Camassia plants prefer sunny areas. Any soil will do, but they perform best on loams. Overwatering is terrible for them, so drainage is essential. They are not afraid of severe frosts and pests.

You can use camassia for cuttings and in a wide range of foliage garden arrangements. It looks best in groups. To prevent the yellowing leaves from becoming visible, it is worth planting it in groups with other perennials. Combining camassia with conifers and shrubs will be beautiful.

Popular Camassia Species

There are five known species of camassia. But only 4 are popular in landscape design; these are:

  • Camassia cusickii is a compact plant; it is about eighty centimeters high. It blooms in mid-May, but the blossom only lasts for a short time, only about ten days. The flowers of Camassia cusickii are not large, only three centimeters in length, with petals colored blue and accentuated by yellow stamens;
  • Camassia leichtlinii is a beautiful species with stems up to a meter high, on which flowers are gathered in upright, brush-like inflorescences. Their shade can be purple, blue, white, or bluish-purple. The leichtlinii camassia blooms at the end of May. The species can grow safely in one place for about five years without replanting;
  • Camassia quamash depending on their form may be low-growing, about twenty centimeters, or high-growing, up to eighty centimeters. Camassia blooms in late May with blue, white, or blue-purple flowers in long inflorescences. The bulbs of this species are actively producing offspring. The plant, therefore, needs to be replanted regularly.
  • Camassia fraseri is named after the traveler D. Fraseri. In its natural habitat, it grows on the mountain slopes of temperate and subtropical zones of the USA. The bright green leaves are 1 – 2 cm wide. The egg-shaped bulb is 3 – 4 cm in diameter. Up to 20 flowers open on a 30 cm long flower cluster. The flowers may be blue-purple or white. The flowers are 4 cm in diameter. The plant itself is 70 cm tall.

Planting Camassia in the Garden

Camassia is a sun-loving plant that grows well in well-lit or slightly shaded areas. A lack of light will affect the number of flower stems, but it will prolong their flowering time. You should plant the Camassia in an area with sufficient light and a soft penumbra at lunchtime.

Camassia has no particular requirements for soil, just good humidity but no stagnant water, especially in spring and winter, as this can cause the flower bulbs to die.

Camassia should be planted in flowerbeds in late autumn. Prepare the soil beforehand. The bulb planting area should be turned over, and humus, peat, and loam should be added to the earth. Then level the ground and plant the bulbs by digging them into the soil by ten to fifteen centimeters. For the flowers to develop correctly, plant them at a distance of about fifteen centimeters.

In addition to planting camassia bulbs, the flowers can also be grown from seed. They are sown in the open ground immediately after picking in the prepared soil, not deeper than two centimeters. After planting the seeds, the bed should be mulched with peat and compost. Over the winter, they will pass through natural stratification and will sprout in the spring.

Growing Camassia in the Garden

Growing camassia in the garden requires little attention or care from gardeners. The flower is completely undemanding. If planted correctly and with due consideration of the plant's characteristics, it will only be necessary to water and nourish it in good time over the next five years.

Water the camassia with warm water in the evening. As the plant likes damp soil but cannot tolerate stagnant moisture, it should be watered when the top layer of soil dries out. During flowering, water the plant up to three times a week.

Special attention should also be paid to young plants that have sprouted for the first time this season.

Camassia requires nutrients to maintain its decorative qualities and abundant flowering. You should therefore feed it regularly. This should be done in early spring when the first leaves have just begun to blossom and flower stems are forming. You can use a multipurpose fertilizer for flowering plants available from florists.

Camassia flowerbeds do not tolerate weeds and should therefore be removed regularly. And the soil around the plants should be periodically loosened to allow air to flow to the root system of the flowers.

By midsummer, the leaves and stems of the Camassia begin to die off. They should be cut away, leaving only small stumps up to five centimeters from the ground, but this should only be done after the plant has withered away naturally. To preserve the plant in winter, mulch the beds with a peat layer of up to seven centimeters or cover them with a layer of dry leaves.

When spring arrives, the cover should be removed immediately to prevent the root system from becoming bogged down.

Home Propagation Methods

Seeds and bulbs propagate Camassia. At home, gardeners most often use bulbs to obtain new specimens. This is all the more so as some species of camassia have a great capacity to produce bulbous offspring. It is only necessary to dig them out in time after the bush has blossomed, dry them in the fresh air in the shade, and put them away in a cool place until mid- autumn. Then, just before planting, the baby bulbs are separated from the bulbs and immediately planted in the open ground in a permanent home. The planting technique is described a little above.

Propagation by seeds is a less popular method. After the seed capsules have matured, they can be bought or collected independently from plants. Seeds should be planted in the open ground in autumn like bulbs. The thing is that the seeds need to be pre-stratified. After lying in bed over the winter, the roots under the influence of low temperatures will increase the percentage of germination and give hardened and robust seedlings. Flowers grew from seed bloom in the third or fourth year. Gardeners, therefore, prefer to use bulbs to propagate camassia.


Once the plant has finished flowering, all the above-ground parts will be completed. At the beginning of August, the bed will be empty, so it is best to take care in advance about which flowers will then fill the area.

Consider the height of the shoots and the color of the variety. Flower species belonging to the tall perennial group look best in the middle of a bed or as a hedge. The plants look less attractive in the garden if planted in an upright position. Then the flowers will not cover up neighboring plantings. Lower varieties should be placed in a rockery or along a border. Camassia would make an excellent decoration for a natural pond. The flower is resistant to moisture.


What is the flower Camassia?

Camassia is a bulbous perennial belonging to the lilac family. In the midlands, it blooms in late May or early June when the central flowering peak of garden plants has already passed. Its flowers resemble stars or miniature lilies and are arranged in clusters.

How to plant Camassia correctly?

Make holes up to 20 cm deep, with no more than 10-15 cm between each one. After separating the offspring from the mother bulbs, each one should be planted in the hole and pressed tightly to the ground. To prevent the plant from freezing in a snowless winter, water the bulbs after planting and mulch them with peat.

How to grow Camassia from seed?

To grow camassia on the plot, use seeds or divide the bulbs. The best time to sow seeds is at the end of the summer season. Plow the bed by mixing the soil with peat or decomposed organic fertilizer at a rate of 4 kg per square meter.