Local favorites

Most types of calochortus insist on summer drought. The flowers do well in containers, which shield the bulbs from voles and gophers. (Avoid black plastic nursery pots, though. They bake the heat-sensitive bulbs.) Plant calochortus in the fall; bulbs will flower the following spring, but seedlings may not bloom for years. The species and cultivars listed below do well in Southern California, providing color from early spring into summer.Globe lilies, star tulips

White fairy lantern: Calochortus albus. Also called white globe lily. White flowers with hints of red, purple or brown. Likes good drainage.

Rose fairy lantern: C. amoenus. Pink to purple.

Oakland star tulip: C. umbellatus. Cupped and white with purple markings. Short and dainty. An early bloomer.

Pink star tulip: C. uniflorus. Pink to soft lavender with fine hairs. Tolerates some summer water.

Tall mariposas

Catalina mariposa: C. catalinae. White with lavender pink. Good in moisture-retentive clay soil. Another early bloomer.

Club-haired mariposa: C. clavatus. Bright yellow. Grows in clay.

Yellow mariposa: C. luteus. Brilliant yellow on 2- to 3-foot stems. 'Golden Orb' accepts some summer water. Late bloomer.

Splendid mariposa: C. splendens. Lavender pink with a purple spot at the base of each petal. Prefers rocky soils. 'Violet Queen' is a more adaptable cultivar. Late bloomer.

Butterfly mariposa: C. venustus. Also called white mariposa, but petals may be pink, yellow, rose or deep red with intricate markings.

Weed's mariposa: C. weedii. Not weedy at all. Dark yellow with mahogany flecks and yellow hairs. Accepts all soils but difficult to establish. Late bloomer.


Bulbs: Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Claremont, (909) 625-8767,; Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Santa Barbara, (805) 682-4726,; Telos Rare Bulbs, Ferndale,; Far West Bulb Farm, Grass Valley, (530) 272-4775, (mail-order only; no phone sales).

Seeds: Theodore Payne Foundation, Sun Valley, (818) 768-1802,; Northwest Native Seed, 915 Davis Place S., Seattle, WA 98144 (mail only).

-- Lili Singer