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Gardening in the Rainy Zone.
SMITH'S FAIRYBELLS, FAIRY LANTERNS, LARGEFLOWER FAIRYBELLS
syn. Prosartes smithii, Prosartes menziesii, Uvularia smithii
Pronounced: DIE-spo-rum SMITH-ee-eye
California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.
Sunset zones: Not listed.
USDA zones: 4-9.
Heat zones: 9-1.
Height: 12-24 inches (30-60 cm).
Width: 12 inches (30 cm).
Early to late spring.
Creamy white, 1/2 inch long, narrow bells that flare slightly at the tips. Large, orange-red berries follow the flowers.
Ovate-lance shaped leaves on red-tinged stems.
Partial shade to shade.
Fertile, moist, humus rich soil.
Apply a complete organic fertilizer in the spring.
Sow seed in autumn and winter over in cold frame.
Divide in early spring.
Rainy Side Notes
Commonly found in moist, shady woods, Disporum smithii can be grown by anyone with similar growing conditions in the Pacific Northwest. The dainty-looking fairybells hang pendant from smooth stems, followed by bright orange-red, fleshy fruit, which squirrels eat. At the Newport Aquarium on the Oregon coast, I found these growing with Oxalis oregana at their feet, a handsome combination.
Disporum comes from the Greek words, dis meaning two and spora meaning seed, describing the ovaries containing two seeds in each chamber. In the Northwest, the Makah used the plant as a love medicine. Some indigenous people ate the berries; however, most tribes considered them poisonous and related them to snakes or ghosts.
The genus Disporum has been moved from the lily family (Lilaceae) into the colchicum family (Colchicaceae).
Photographed in Newport, Oregon.