The Asphodels are Blooming! Plant Fix

Asphodelus albus

There’s something about the first time a new plant blooms; akin to a first kiss.  When I purchased the Asphodeline lutea and Asphodelus albus (both have the common name Asphodel) a few years back, I was thrilled—they are CHOICE!  I had seen asphodels in plant encyclopedias for decades but never in commerce.  It’s been 3 years now since they were purchased as 4” pots and I have nurtured them along in a sunny spot with well drained soil.  The basal clumps of strappy leaves have slowly widened and I wondered when root growth would be sufficient enough to put their energy into flowering. 

Striped tepals and maroon bracts of Asphodelus albus

This spring the flowering stalks (technically scapes on A. albus) have slowly risen above the foliage as I have watched with great anticipation.  After the first year I forgot which plant was which, but now all is clear.  The white buds gave away the Asphodelus albus earlier this week—against dramatic, deep maroon bracts.  How I have been enjoying the color contrast, the adorable “stripes” on the buds and how the stamen peak out of the tip of the bud before the petals (actually tepals) unfurl.  Earlier this week the first flower opened and today the second flower raceme is following suit.

Blue darner waits for Asphodeline lutea to open, too.

My Asphodeline lutea (also called Jacob’s rod) has 5 or 6 flowering stems whose buds are still tight, but hinting of yellow-green and revealing vertical stripes.  Curiously, the stalks sport a pleasant swirl pattern caused by how the leaves wrap around the stem from their point of origin.  So far the flower stalks of both plants are sturdy enough that the weight of the raceme is not causing them to flop.  I do stake plants that need extra support, but those who don’t require it have a special place in my heart.  There is something about a staked flower that reminds me of a Dalí painting.  The Asphodeline lutea has another week before the flowers are fully open and alas, may need to be propped up yet.  It’s a sweet anticipation apparently shared by a blue darner.

Pattern on A. lutea flower stalk–not a scape; a scape is leafless

© Colleen Miko, 2011

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About Colleen Miko

Colleen Miko is a certified professional horticulturist with 20 years experience in landscape design who has designed award winning gardens for the NW Flower & Garden Show as well as HGTV’s “Landscaper’s Challenge”. Colleen is freelance garden writer and speaker.
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