Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Plant of the Week: Firecracker Flower

Pop!  Boom!  Oooooooohhh!  That pretty much describes Brodiaea coccinea (or Dichelostemma ida-maia), a California native bulb.    When planted in the Fall, this scarlet beauty will explode with flowers by Spring.  It's native to the North Coast and prefers part shade/redwood type environments, although mine are hanging out in my South-facing Oakland garden with no signs of distress.  Apparently, it was once considered a delicacy among Native Americans (although please don't try it at home until you've researched it...)

It looks like the blossom has petticoats!

Sun:  Sun (near coast) to part shade
Soil:  well-drained to light clay (heavy clay can rot bulbs)
Plant:  Unfortunately, no instant gratification for you!  Nab some bulbs in the Fall for a show next Spring
Buy it:  Scheeper's, Far West Bulb Farm, or Garden Natives might have it by next year, too.
Good for:  a pop of red in Spring, pairing with gray-foliage or blue Fescues, honestly this one can be incorporated in any style of garden so just try it!

Even the upright dried flowers look interesting!  Can't wait to see how it sets seed.


  1. Very pretty! I agree, the flowers do look like their under-skirts are peeking out.

  2. One of my favorite bulbs! I just love the lime green with the strong red. And mine did come back from the bulb, so I wouldn't worry about seeds.

  3. You know, I have yet to see one of these live, though I've seen it in catalogs. The related Dichelostemma capitatum that grows around here is my favorite spring bulb and pretty much gets free range of the front yard wherever it decides to self-sow.

  4. Yeah, the lime green/red combo is just the best. I'm greedy about having more, so I do hope for seeds to come up!
    James, I was the same way until this year when I just HAD to order some- certainly worth it, but I wonder how they'd do that far south out of their range. If it seeds, I can send some to you.

  5. I'll have to keep this one in mind for my Fall plans - For me it's time to try and make an actual garden that's pretty. I'm a little afraid actually!