How to Grow Camassia

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 are a less invasive alternative to Bluebells. 

They make fabulous cut flowers.

Where and How to Plant Camassia

Ideally plant Camassia in a sheltered spot, into moist, well drained soil, in sun or partial shade. Camassia will tolerate wet, but not boggy conditions. Even though Camassia prefers damp conditions, because Camassia is a tough plant, they will usually survive a degree of summer drought. Camassia can be grown in sun or partial shade and are pest free. 

Camassia are tolerant of all soil types and will grow in Chalk, Loam, Sand and soil which is Acid, Alkaline, or Neutral. 

Categorised as hardy H4, which is hardy in most of the UK -10-5, Camassia benefit from winter protection by a covering of mulch, at least for the first year to get them established and annually in colder areas or exposed areas. 

Camassia is best planted where they are to remain as Camassia dislikes being moved and root disturbance. 

Plant Camassia bulbs in the autumn, at least 10cms deep  (4") which is about 3 times the bulb's depth, and a similar distance apart into well-drained soil which does not become waterlogged. Water well after planting. They need no attention or maintenance after planting and are trouble free.

It's a short narrative for Camassia, because they are not fussy, easy to grow and maintenance free.

Camassia is easy to grow, tolerant of most soil conditions, and requires no maintenance. Ideal garden plant.

Updated 18.09.2021