Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Plant of the Week: Mariposa Lily

I'm getting tempted to gently pull apart the bud of this lovely Calochortus superbus just to see inside as my patience is that thin.  Ok, I won't, but the suspense is terrible!  It is with that anticipation that I preemptively name the Mariposa Lily "Plant of the Week."

A native bulb, Mariposa Lily emerges in the Spring, with lackluster foliage and a knock-out of a flower.  Very Impressionist, I think!   This is one of the natives that has found an international following.  I obtained these bulbs from Scheepers, in Connecticut, of all places!

Photo found on Calphotos, © 2002 George W. Hartwell

Sun:  Full sun to part shade
Soil:  well drained with no summer watering
Plant:  Stick the bulbs in the ground in Fall, but if there's greenery (a 4" or gallon container), try to plant it before it blooms
Buy it:  Ok, next year I'm totally getting my bulbs from these guys, Far West Bulb Farm.  They've got some fantastic varieties!  If you didn't get a head start, Annie's might have some at the nursery.
Good for:  Springtime showstopper, filling in blank spaces between new plantings, containers.  I can't figure out if this flower supports wildlife.  Mariposa means butterfly in Spanish, but is it because its petals resemble a butterfly's wings or because the butterflies enjoy its company?  Anyone like to jump in here?


  1. What a charming flower. Worth the wait, I'd say!

  2. Oh my gosh! We have something that looks very similar here, that's not quite yet in bloom. Now I'm intrigued. The flower bud looks very similar to yours, but ours are accompanied by a long single blade-like leaf. I wonder if it could be a flower of the same genus? I'll have to watch them like a hawk, to be sure I don't miss them bloom!

  3. So, I was going to do a "I beat you to it!" post this morning to show my first mariposa lily, which opened yesterday. But now my camera is out of battery...We'll see who'll have a picture up first this evening ;->

  4. Oh my gosh, Town Mouse- you made me dash outside to check! Alas, you win on that one! Can't wait to see it!

    Thanks for dropping by, Sheila! I'm trying to be patient, the buds are certainly getting bigger.

    And Clare, it's ever so much more exciting to find one that planted itself all on its own! Makes it more of a treasure hunt! Of course, my absent-minded squirrel-like planting habits get me pretty close to that, too.