With its clusters of violet blue funnel-shaped flowers atop slender stems, Brodiaea is an easily recognisable and delicate-looking plant. Despite its beauty, Brodiaea is still a relatively unusual sight in British gardens. As of June 2011, a pack of 50 Brodiaea bulbs costs less than £5. The plant is also known as Queen Fabiola.
According to the Internet Gardener website, Brodiaea originates from Northwest America. Brodiaea bulbs measure between 4cm and 5cm and need to be stored dry between 21 and 25 degrees C. The bulbs can be toxic so should not be eaten. Wear gloves when handling them as they may cause skin irritation. The plant can reach up to 50cm tall when fully grown, though 30cm is an average height.
Plant Brodiaea in well-drained and fertile soil that receives little or no shade. Soil can be improved by adding course sand or rotted organic material. The J Parker Dutch Bulbs website notes to space bulbs about 10cm apart and approximately 8cm deep. Plant the bulbs in the autumn, before the first frost, so that rooting can take place quickly. The plant’s aesthetic qualities will be maximised by planting it in intermittent groupings of between six and eight bulbs.
The beauty of Brodiaea is that they require little maintenance once planted. The plant is extremely hardy and will spread out over the years, making them an ideal choice for rockeries, planters and borders. Water the plants freely as they grow, and deadhead as necessary. The plants are quite frost tolerant after they have taken root, according to the Internet Gardener.
The Garden Oasis website advises cutting a few stems to provide flowers for display in the home or elsewhere between May and July. Brodiaea flowers are long-lasting when cut and provide an unusual decorative centrepiece. The Brodiaea’s long swathes of foliage die back just before the flowers come into bloom.