Growing Ornithogalums for Cut Flowers

Ornithogalums: In this genus of bulbous plants there are many varieties suitable for cutting. Most are hardy, but some need greenhouse culture.

Any good, well-drained soil will suit the bulbs, which are seen at their best when planted in bold groups. Plant the hardy varieties from September to November. With some of the choicer kinds, a light top dressing of decayed manure or peat applied in the early part of the year will keep them in good free flowering condition.

Among those most useful for cutting are O. nutans, which produces in May and June on 6-9 in. stems umbels of silvery-grey flowers shaded green on the outside. Particularly good for growing in grass or under trees, where it will increase freely. O. umbellatum, the Star of Bethlehem, freely produces in May starry-white flowers. It is a good subject for brightening dull corners, and although it increases rapidly, if the clumps of bulbs are divided every 3 years it will prove very effective and attractive in front of the border.


O. pyramidale is most accommodating for the border, producing in June long, pointed leaves and spikes of starry-white flowers which are sometimes tinted green.

O. arabicum is a handsome species flowering in June and July, having clusters of creamy-white flowers, with shining black centres on stems of about x 8 in. Excellent for the conservatory, when grown outdoors this variety should be given a warm, well-drained position and light protection in the winter.

Requiring similar treatment to O. arabicum is O. thyrsoides, commonly known as the Chincherinchee. This has long, thickish foliage and a closely clothed flower-head of starry white, growing up to 15 in. high. This species has become very popular during the last few years, not only as a plant for the conservatory, but also for growing out of doors. It is a first-class cut flower. If cut as the buds are opening, the flowers will last 4-5 weeks in water. Planted in the open 3-4 in. deep from mid-April onwards, it will provide a fine display; the bulbs should be lifted in the autumn before frosts come.

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