All About Camassia Flowers
Table of Contents
- Written by Holly Hughes on July 06, 2022
You might not have heard of camassia before but, if you live in the Northwest of US, chances are you might have seen these exceptionally beautiful flowers in meadows, woodlands, or even in a savvy gardener’s border bed.
Whether you’ve never heard of this plant before or you’re interested in planting camas bulbs, this article is for you. Here is everything you need to know about the origins, appearance, and growing conditions needed for this sensational perennial.
We guarantee by the end of this article you’ll be buying camassia bulbs to grow at home, or searching for camassia bouquets online!
What is camassia?
Camassia is a plant native to North America traditionally found in the wet meadows and woodlands. After some debate, camassia is now claimed by the asparagus family and proudly carries many names, some of which include camas, Indian or wild hyacinth, quamash and camash.
Camassias are perennial plants that grow in vast numbers, self-propagating over time – much like bluebells – to deliver a sweeping carpet of color to a woodland, meadow, or garden.
What does camassia look like?
If you have ever seen a camassia in bloom you would remember it as the sight is truly something to behold. These plants are like floral fireworks, with their large stalks – which can grow up to 50 inches tall – producing blue, violet, pink, and white six-petaled flowers that appear almost like stars when they bloom. One of the most popular species is camassia cusickii, a light blue variety.
Both their height and these multi-flowered florets make camassia a show-stopping bloom that looks as good in a cut flower bouquet as it does in a prairie or in a border garden bed.
Browse some of the stunning bouquets that so beautifully combine jaw-dropping color and size at SendFlowers.
The history of camassia
The camassia genus was originally thought to be a part of thelily family. However, it was then reclassified as part of family Asparagaceae: the asparagus family.
However, what makes camassia so particularly appealing, isn’t just its beauty (or the fact that camassia is so easy to grow and maintain – keep reading to find out how to grow it at home!) Its history and value to indigenous people makes camassia even more special.
Camas bulbs were actively cultivated and protected by Indigenous peoples in the Pacific Northwest who used to then harvest blue camassia plants when in bloom to eat as a food source. Though camassia already grew in the wild in these regions, indigenous communities were diligent and determined in improving its growing conditions, with lineage-based plots of camassia common and fiercely guarded. In fact, so precious was this food source that there were social repercussions for anyone found trespassing on another’s plot!
If still unconvinced of the importance and value of this flower to preceding generations who used it for survival, you might be interested to learn that many places in what we now call North America are named after camas plants. These include Victoria in British Columbia which was known by the Lekwungen people as Camosun. Translated, this means ‘the place to gather camas.’
In Washington, there is the city of Camas and Lacamas Creek in the south; Oregon has its own Camas Valley; Camas County in southern Idaho and Camas Prairie in the North; and in Utah there is Kamas.
When do camassia bloom?
One of the best things about camassia quamash bulbs is that they begin to bloom just as your early spring flowers – like tulips, daffodils, and narcissus – are about to finish and before your eager summertime perennials – like the vibrant peony– come into flower.
Camas lily bloom times are normally from the end of April until early June.
How to grow camassia
As mentioned, camassia, due to their wild nature, are one of the easiest plants to grow in your garden and require little maintenance or attention. For more low-maintenance plants for the busy gardener, read our guide to the best, easy-to-care-for flowers for some quick and expert inspiration!
Camassia are a wonderful addition to your garden as they will flourish in soil most other flowers cannot. They like moist, heavy soil and are unfussy when it comes to acidity or alkalinity. This ability to grow in clay-like soil means you can plant these jaw-dropping blooms in areas of your garden that might struggle to grow other plants.
Camassia plants also enjoy full sun to partial shade and, apart from a watering when first planted, should be able to derive enough moisture from rain so no regular watering is needed.
You can also grow these flowers in pots and containers which is perfect for the urban gardener looking to make the most of their patio or balcony.
As pots tend to dry out soil, potted camassia will need regular watering to keep the soil dense and moist.
We particularly recommend camassia as, not only is it a native plant, it’s also a fantastic pollinator, which is much-needed for biodiversity in the US.
Plant camassia bulbs in autumn to have some very happy bees come late spring and early summer.
Do camassia make good cut flowers?
The strong stalks and explosive flowers make camassia a brilliant addition to your vase. Even better, these plants are long-lasting when cut and so are a great option for bouquets struggling to find fresh blooms in-between seasons. Speaking of long-lasting cut flowers, here’s our selection of the best and freshest bloomsthat will help you get the most from your arrangement.
Of course, if buying your bouquets online, you can’t go wrong with the expert selection of services like 1800Flowers and FromYouFlowers, who select the best blooms to ensure you or your loved ones can enjoy a long-lasting arrangement.
For flower subscription lovers (honestly, there is no greater gift to yourself than a monthly drop-off of farm-fresh flowers!), check out BloomsyBox, MonthlyClubs, and EnjoyFlowers for the best in seasonal bouquets.
We hope this guide has made you fall as in love with camassia plants as we are. It’s so important to champion and celebrate our native plants and their place in history and you can do this by growing camassia at home!
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