Camassia are not as widely grown as many spring-flowering bulbs, but they are becoming more popular as their qualities become better known. Camassia flower in April and May and have large spikes of flowers in blue, purple or white. Commonly offered for sale are C. cusickii, quamash, (center image,) and Leichtlinii, (right image.) From a distance, when planted on mass, they can be mistaken for Bluebells, see image above left. The flowers bloom from the base upwards.
The flowers are lily like, with coloured stamens, and the plants are tall, growing to around 1-1.3m. The bulbs originate from North America where they are to be found growing along-side streams and damp meadows, from which it follows Camassia will tolerate damp conditions.
Camassia will tolerate dappled shade and look ideal in a woodland setting, illustrated in the image left. The leaves are slow to die down, similar to Alliums, and do not look ideal, especially after the flowers have faded. Bearing in mind the flowering time in late April/ May good planting companions are the early flowering Alliums, early flowering Geraniums and Aquilegia. To mask the faded leaves as they die back, Hosta would also be a good companion plant suitable, and many varieties are suitable for planting partial shade and moist conditions.
Camassia is a less invasive alternative to Bluebells.
They make fabulous cut flowers.