Calochortus – Mariposa or Butterfly Tulips

Calochortus are sometimes known as Mariposa or Butterfly Tulips, whilst on other occasions certain varieties have been described as Star or Globe Tulips. They come chiefly from California, and their light, graceful growth and charming brightly coloured flowers make them altogether attractive.

The flower consists of six petals, the three outer ones being shorter and narrower than the remainder, many varieties being of striking colours with vivid markings. They are especially valuable for cutting, having long stems, and when established, produce many blooms over a long period.

Calochortus are fairly hardy, although they do best in a sunny position, where the soil is light and sandy and drainage good. A bed raised above the surrounding soil is helpful, for it will prevent any possibility of excessive moisture settling round the bulbs in the winter.

Calochortus elegans

They are planted during October and November, about 3 in. apart, and covered with 3 in. of soil. It is a good plan during the winter, especially, when there are heavy rains, to cover the beds with straw or similar material, which can be removed in the early part of the year. This will give protection, and keep the surface soil from caking.

All flower from May until early August, and when in full growth the plants should have occasional soakings of clear water during dry spells.

Dependable varieties of Mariposa Tulips are ‘Clavatus’, golden yellow; `Kennedye, dazzling orange-scarlet with black central blotch; Venusus, ‘Eldorado’, of most unusual colouring, varying from creamy white to lilac, through to pink and rosy-purple, the centres of all being brown.

C. amabilis, with beautiful pendant golden flowers, and C. amoenus, with drooping blooms of delightful rose, growing about 8 in. high, are two of the best globe tulips, while there are several star tulips with large cup-shaped blooms, including yellow and white.

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