Paradise Garden

Gardening Articles written by Experts


Sternbergia candida

by Mark Rowland

Introduction

A rare spring flowering Sternbergia, which was collected to near extinction before it was even known to science. Sternbergia candida makes an excellent plant for the alpine house, producing its large fragrant white flowers in February. A native of Turkey, it presents no difficulty in cultivation and should be treated like a normal spring flowering eastern Mediterranean bulb.

Sternbergia candida flowerSternbergia candida

History

Sternbergia candida was originally described by Brian Mathew & Turhan Baytop in 1979 from material collected in Anatolya by Turkish bulb gatherers. At the time it was feared that the species was already extinct in the wild, but other populations have subsequently been discovered. It remains, however, a rare and vulnerable species.

Propagation

Sternbergia candida grows readily from seed, but takes several years to reach flowering size. Flowers need to be hand pollinated for them to set seed as the plants flower too early in the season for bees to be active. Mature bulbs multiply slowly but steadily by division.

Cultivation

Like most eastern Mediterranean bulbs, Sternbergia candida needs a good summer ripening. This factor alone means that in the UK it will perform better in an alpine house where it can be kept warm and dry over summer. The bulbs do not seem to be particular with regard to compost, but good drainage is advisable.


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