Growing N. calcicola, N. rupicola, and N. watieri in Oregon

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Narcissus rupicola, Narcissus watieri and Narcissus calcicola have only grown really well for me here in Oregon in raised beds outdoors. The only do OK in pots in the cold greenhouse. They do grow and flower in pots but with with less vigor than outdoors. I would add that they do somewhat better in the raised beds that are raised 12″ to 20″ above the ground. Their better growth in higher raised beds is probably due to the excellent drainage and the dry, warm summers we experience.

I have had markedly less success when these species are grown in standard field rows. The soil here is classified as “Laurelwood Silt Loam; 7% – 12% slope and Very Well Drained”. If I had to guess, my thought would be that even though the soil is rapid draining, the fall, winter, and spring are simply too wet for too extended a period of time to ideally suit these species.

The natural PH of the soil here is quite acid due to the mean annual precipitation of 45 to 60 inches. I maintain three, 10 foot x 4 foot raised beds with this acid soil. The main fields are limed annually with dolomite lime as needed to correct the PH to 6.0 – 6.5. I tarp the “acid” raised beds when lime is applied. Blanchard records that “N. calcicola grows in acid soil pockets on calcareous (limestone) soil”. I frankly have never understood exactly how to replicate this in either gardens or pots. N. calcicola does do well here in pots in acidic, very well drained, gritty soil.

I use a commercially available potting soil (Pro Gro 5F) which is made up of: one third sphagnum peat , one third composted bark, and one third pumice. This is further amended in a cement mixer by a adding perlite to bring the mix to 45% drainage. I do add magnesium sulfate and Jersey Greensand for trace elements. This is added by weight as called for by commercial soil tests. I do fertilize (top dress with N-P-K) as called for in the soil tests. That is often 3-10-10 (bean or pea fertilizer) in early season followed by an after flowering application of 5-10-10 or 0-10-10 as called for by soil testing.

I’m not saying that this is how everyone should grow these species. This is how I grow them in my climate using commercially available nursery products that are made up of and contain locally available materials. It also takes into consideration the high rainfall here as well as my southern exposure and sloping terrain.

2 comments for “Growing N. calcicola, N. rupicola, and N. watieri in Oregon

  1. Wim Lemmers once told me that he had been to Nth Africa and noticed that N watieri grew in stony ground on the north side of large rocks. If this is true for all this species it suggests little sun and good drainage which seems to support Steve’s experience with it.


  2. I buy some specie bulbs from Miniature Bulbs their web site contains the following advice,

    N.rupicola ssp watieri An almost perfect small pure white jonquil species with a neat flat cup. An absolute must have species. Best grown in pots to fully enjoy its beauty. Likes to be frozen in winter. Ht. 4in (10cm). A rare and beautiful gem. Many wins at RHS and AGS shows.”   Consistent with the north side of rocks where the snow lies longest?

    I bought some last year and hope I can keep them so have a particular interest in this post. In addition I managed to obtain 3 seedlings of “N.rupicola ssp watieri Abaleish which, while they have yet to flower, I’ve had for two years. I potted them in an alpine compost mix in a clay pot and keep them in an outside shaded plunge bed. They will be repotted in an alpine mix in July. Abaleish is a selection from Scottish Rock Garden Club seed and, to my eye, is particularly attractive selection.

    As a novice I’d appreciate any advice or comment.


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