Camassia quamash

Height 60-90cm (2-3ft)

Planting distance 15cm (6in)

Flowers early to mid summer

Moist humus-rich soil

Lightly shaded or sunny site

Bulbs available in autumn

As they thrive in moist and shady conditions, an ideal site for these spiky-looking plants is a spot beside a garden pool. They will also grow in herbaceous borders and naturalize happily in semi-wild grassy areas provided the soil isn’t too light. The star-like flowers come out in early to mid summer – large scilla-like spikes in various shades of blue and violet or white on 90cm (3ft) tall stems. All the species are hardy and require very little attention once they have been planted.

Popular species

Camassia cusickii has wisteria-blue flowers on stems 60cm (2ft) high. Plant the bulbs 7.5cm (3in) deep and 15cm (6in) apart and they will spread freely. Camassia leichtlinii is the most striking species with creamy-white or aster-blue flowers. These appear in mid summer. The plants are 90cm (3ft) high; set the bulbs 15cm (6in) apart.

Camassia quamash (syn. Esculenta) is 75cm (2-1/2ft) high. Its violet-blue flowers are clustered together densely at the tops of the stems.


Plant the bulbs 7.5-10cm (3-4in) deep in early or mid autumn in humus-rich, heavy, moist soil which is unlikely to dry out in the spring and early summer. (Covering the bulbs with plenty of leaf-mould will help keep the soil damp.) Arrange the bulbs 15cm (6in) apart in large groups in light shade or full sun for the best effect. Dead-head after flowering in early and mid summer.


When the clumps become too dense, lift the bulbs in early autumn, remove any offsets and replant immediately. These offsets take between one and three years to produce flowers.

Pests and diseases

Trouble free.

22. February 2012 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Annuals, Biennials, Bulbous Plants, Featured Articles | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Camassia quamash


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