Camassia Plant Care: Tips On Growing The Camas Lily

The Camassia [Kuh-MAS-ee-uh] genus belongs to the Asparagus family.

These spring-blooming native plants call the Pacific Northwest of the United States and British Columbia, Canada home.

The cut flowers are favorites of florists and make breathtaking bouquets.

Attractive flowers of the Camassia Plant aka Camas Lily

Create a beautiful bouquet by cutting the stems right after the lowest flower starts opening.

The remaining flower will start opening in the coming days.

The plant has several synonyms including:

  • Camassia Leichtlinii
  • Camassia Esculenta
  • Camassia Cusickii
  • Camassia Quamash

You may hear Camassia called by the following common names:

  • Camas plant
  • Quamash
  • North American Wild Hyacinth
  • Camosh
  • Camass
  • Camash
  • Bears grass
  • Indian Hyacinth

NOTE: The Camassia genus was once part of Liliaceae family but moved to Asparagaceae.

The bulb was an important food for native Americans. Lewis and Clark first encountered and documented Camas in the Cascade Mountains.

Camassia Plant Care

Size & Growth

This plant grows in higher numbers in the wild, especially in moist meadows.

This perennial plant has basal linear leaves, growing about 8” – 32” inches in length.

These typically emerge during the early to late spring season.

The plant grows 12” – 50” inches tall and has a multi-flowered stem, which rises above the plant during the early summer season.

Flowering and Fragrance

This plant sprouts upright racemes of six-petal flowers, which ranges in varying shades of blue flowers, blue-violet or deep purple to white or pale lilac.

The bloom time for Quamash is late spring to early summer where the plants appear to color the whole meadow once they start flowering.

Plants head to dormancy after blooming.

The stalks of the flowers grow around 24” – 30” inches tall and usually have numerous star-shaped florets.

Light & Temperature

Camassia grows best in partial shade but loves to be in the full sun.

If planted in slightly dry soil, this plant is ideally placed in a location, receiving around four to five hours of direct sunlight.

It’s best to plant it during early winter or fall in an outdoor garden where the soil is adequately moist and the soil is preferably lower than 60° degrees Fahrenheit (15° C).

The recommended USDA hardiness zone for Camassia is 5 – 10.

Watering and Feeding

This plant prefers thorough watering, but the soil must be dried out between watering.

Once the camass is ready to grow, the Camassia bulbs must be adequately and thoroughly watered.

As a native plant Camassia does not require regular fertilizing. However, a diluted balanced fertilizer is appreciated.

Soil & Transplanting

The soil must be well-drained and moist for the optimal growth of this plant.

It happily grows in humus-rich moist soils, but plant them above the water line to prevent them from being submerged.

When planting bulbs place them 5″ inches deep and spaced 5″ inches apart.

Grooming and Maintenance

Ensure the camas plant has a well-drained soil mixture, with sufficient sand or other coarse mediums for promoting drainage.

It should be placed in part shade.

The plant must be thoroughly watered to grow appropriately and bloom.

Make sure to remove discolored, old, and wilting leaves to enhance its growth cycle.

Moreover, spent blooms must also be removed after flowering if the seeds aren’t required.

How to Propagate Camas Lily

Propagation of this plant is rather easy.

  • It must be planted during the early winter or fall season for optimal growth.
  • Camassia loves moist conditions, so ensure the right conditions are provided.
  • When propagating through seeds, it might take the plant around three years to finally bloom.
  • Scatter the seeds on the prepared mixture, and cover the area with organic mulch, about 2” inches of a layer.
  • A minimum of 20 seeds per square foot must be planted for the best outcome.
  • Camassia bulbs are also used for propagation.
  • As per the bulb maturity level, the depth of the soil must be 4” – 6” inches.
  • Ensure the plant receives thorough watering regular before it starts establishing.
  • Afterward, watering should be reduced.

Camas Lily Pest or Diseases

This plant is mostly pest and disease-free and is mainly ignored by rodents and deer.

The stems of this plant are rather stiff, which is why they rarely need any support.

Camassia Plant Uses

This plant looks great when used in slopes and banks, beds and borders, informal gardens, flower cottages, and wildflower meadows.

Plant in groups or mass of around 15 flower bulbs when using in borders, open woodland areas, and wildflower meadows.

The foliage typically becomes scruffy after the flowers have bloomed, which is why it is best not to give this plant a prominent position in the borders.

It may also be used as accents, the periphery of a pond or water garden. Camas is a pollinator favorite for butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees.

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