}

January 22, 2012

The Rarest of Rare - Hello 'Blue Chilean Crocus'

Tecophilaea cyanocrocus ssp leictlinii, a true-blue flower that comes from a tiny corm. Nearly extinct ( or extinct in the wild) this is a plant that today, only exists in private collections.  It is the Panda Bear of the plant world.

This rarely seen bulb (corm) is one of the real treasures of the plant world. Tecophilaea provides a refreshing burst of true blue to a winter bulb collection ( and will award you with gasps from your friends, or even from the real hortiphiles, as I found out today as we hosted our annual Winter Bash for the American Primula Society. People simply love the color blue, and the plantsmen love it's rareness.

Tecophileae cyanocrocus is considered by many experts as being extinct in the wild due to farming, commercial water use and climatic change, but remains in many collections around the world. We do know that it it is not extinct, it is certainly rarely found in the wilds of Chile anymore.  Today, it  is one of the most desirable bulb plants in the world, if only for its amazing azure color, but surely for its rarity. They can be grown from seed if one has a cool greenhouse, but by far, the easiest way to get success will be to order corms in late summer. Not hardy in cold northern areas, some have survived winters in southern England, and Ireland, or in the US where the summers are dry ( Northern California perhaps?). Beyond that, these are only worth growing under the protection of a cold glass or alpine house.
CORMS MUST BE ORDERED IN JULY OR AUGUST, AND PLANTED IN SEPTEMBER BEFORE THE BEGIN ANY GROWTH. USE A QUICK DRAINING SOIL ( I USE GRAVEL AS THE LAYER BELOW THE CORMS) SINCE THESE BULBS DEMAND EXCELLENT DRAINAGE. FERTILIZE AFTER BLOOMING WITH A 0.5.5 analysis FERTILIZER TO ENCOURAGE CORM GROWTH FOR NEXT YEAR. ALLOW POTS TO GO DORMANT AND DRY FOR THE SUMMER.

There have been reports lately of a native population being found, but this has not been confirmed - regardless, this is indeed a rare plant. Unique in not only the bulb world for its blue tint, it is also unique in the plant kingdom. Not truly a crocus at all, it's common name comes from the shape of its' blossoms, which some might say, are crocus-like, although both are classified as being members of the larger plant family, Iridaceae, the iris family. Corms are sometimes available from specialty sources such as Telos Rare Bulbs, and Paul Christian Rare Plants, but be prepared to pay for rarity - two years ago corms sold for $60-75 each, last year, $25. each. This year, some were available for $18.00 each.

7 comments :

  1. Ahhhh! I want these! Thanks for the cultural info. I'll definitely be looking for them this year.

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  2. Count me among a "sucker for a blue flower" camp.

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  3. Anonymous7:16 PM

    Beautiful!

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  4. Very pretty shade of blue. I can see why they are so desirable apart from being rare. I don;t think I could grow them here ecept in pots...

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  5. I love blue flowers! These are gorgeous and would look so beautiful in my garden this year. Where do you get your bulbs?

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  6. Tecophilaea were also available this year from Brent & Becky's bulbs, look for them in the fall catalogs, not the spring catalog lists. Just remember - they are not hardy outdoors.

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  7. Beautiful! Not sure if i could pull these off but i want to! Thanks for the awesome post!

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