For dignity and regal appearance, the Tulip is in a class by itself. For most of the United States, the planting time starts about October 1st and continues through the first half of November.
In the colder areas, plant tulip bulbs in the ground before frost hardens it. In California, Florida, and the warmer Southern states, delay planting until after Thanksgiving, indeed until the temperature of both ground and air has fallen. As a matter of fact, successful plantings have been made in California as late as January 1st.
Plant Tulips in any location (sun or shade) in the cold sections of the country, but partial or complete shade may be necessary for warmer areas.
A rich, loamy, well-drained soil is advisable. Plant tulips in drifts or groups of 8 or 12 bulbs for special effects, such as near a garden gate or bench, or mass them in a border. A background of evergreens will provide an exciting contrast with the bright-toned flowers.
The one “don’t” connected with Tulip plantings – Don’t set the bulbs in thin lines.
It is also advisable to plant nearby only those varieties that are comparable in height and flowering period.
Depth, Spacing and Soil
Planting depth and spacing are controversial subjects among the experts. Generally speaking, a depth of 6 inches should suffice, and a distance of 5 to 7 inches between bulbs. The early varieties require a more shallow planting depth than the late flowering sorts, e.g., the Parrot Tulips appear best when planted closer together than the Darwins, whose flowers produce in greater profusion.
The soil should be well prepared and conditioned. Never place manure where it comes in contact with the bulbs. It’s best not to use manure as compost, even if well rotted. In other words, don’t take chances. You’ll find at most garden centers many forms of humus to incorporate into the soil.
Also available are bulb plant foods formulated especially for this purpose. (Consult with your local garden center or nurseryman concerning the humus or bulb food best for the soil in your area.)
Setting each bulb on a cushion of sand will guarantee excellent drainage and reduce the danger of the bulb’s rotting during periods of heavy rain.
When planting bulbs in relatively large areas, it is often easier to prepare the entire planting bed to the proper depth and then set the bulbs in place. This will make planting quicker than digging individual holes for large quantities of bulbs.
It is a very easy and simple procedure to cover the entire bulb bed with soil after a mass planting. This process also ensures the bulbs’ flowering at approximately the same time.
For potted Tulips use a fairly rich, friable (easy-to-work) garden loam slightly on the alkaline side. Add equal parts of leaf mold if the soil is of a clay-like texture.
Potted bulbs require excellent drainage. Use broken sections of pottery over the drainage hole in the pot, and also as a layer at the bottom of the pot to prevent the soil from clogging the drainage hole and to insure adequate drainage of excess moisture.
Covering potted Tulips with a mulch of leaves or comparable material minimizes the danger of the soil drying and aids in keeping out frost in the cold areas. The potted bulbs should remain in the dark to encourage rooting.
2. Daffodils (Narcissus)
Daffodils blast onto the scene with cheerful colors, happiness and a feeling that Spring has finally arrived. The Spring-like tones of the flowers are pure white, yellow and golden-yellow, with some varieties being a combination of both gold and white.
One more interesting trait of many delightful Daffodil varieties is their red or orange centers. Daffodils are among the first of the bulbous plants to flower in the spring garden and provide huge bouquets for indoor decoration.
Daffodils are at their best when planted for a natural setting. Since these “naturalized” plantings will continue for many years, it is important to prepare the soil properly and to select the best location.
With Daffodils, your planting arrangement should be on the casual side, avoid orderly rows, straight lines and geometric patterns. These flowers are lovely when planted in drifts and, for added fun, try throwing a handful of bulbs in the air and planting where they land.
Daffodils prefer a relatively light soil, sandy loam plus liberal quantities of humus being highly recommended.
Soil and Fertilizer
Slow-acting bonemeal may be added, as well as any one of the bulb fertilizers formulated for this kind of bulbous subject. Be sure to follow the instructions on the package carefully; do not over fertilize at any time.
As with Tulips, the soil should be thoroughly cultivated, turning it to a depth of at least 8 to 10 inches. Remember, deep-rooted plants give rise to a healthy and luxuriant top growth, so the deeper the soil is worked, the better.
Since the Daffodil is a more permanent type of bulb than the Tulip (which should be lifted each year), allow them to grow undisturbed until the clumps tend to become crowded. This might not occur until possibly the 5th year, and some varieties, characterized by extremely slow growth, may not require lifting for 10 or even 15 years.
Plant bulbs early in Fall, usually as soon as they become available. When planting in regular to heavy soil, plant bulbs at a depth of approximately 5 inches; generally speaking, light soils require deeper planting by about 2 inches over the recommended depth for planting in heavy soils.
One of the loveliest garden scenes that can be created by the average gardener, is a planting close together of King Alfred Daffodils and Wedgwood Iris (Tall Bearded Iris). The gorgeous, deep yellow flowers of the King Alfred Daffodils contrast elegantly with the blue of the Iris.
Once planted in your garden, you will want to re-create this exciting herald to Spring every year.
For fragrance, penetrating and intoxicating, there is nothing quite like a Hyacinth. Just a few flowers will practically fill an entire home with a delightful scent.
In the outdoor garden, Hyacinths will produce a most exciting highlight. In groups of 3 or 5 bulbs, Hyacinths can do more in a garden than any other comparable bulb. Additionally, they will appear most impressive in beds, borders and for massed effects.
You will also find them valuable in front of Daffodils, early Tulips or planted in a mixed border.
In general, plant Hyacinths (preferably in a rich, sandy soil) in October and November, and certainly before the ground freezes. Spacing the bulbs about 6 inches apart and 6 inches deep is a good average for most soils. (As with other bulbs, the lighter, sandier soils require deeper planting.)
In areas subject to severe Winters, it is advisable to mulch the ground with leaves or other comparable material after freezing conditions have set in, removing early the following Spring.
Hyacinths suffer today because of their earlier use in formal and frozen-pattern beds. For the contemporary garden, Hyacinths have a real value; planted informally in drifts they add color and scent to the early Spring garden in a way unparalleled by any other ornamental.
The range of color is less exciting than in Tulips, but the tones are clear and pleasing. You have your choice of several varieties in each of the following colors: white, blue, purple, yellow, pink, rose and carmine.
The French-Roman Hyacinths are less formal in appearance than the common Hyacinth (the so-called Dutch Hyacinth) and have a more delicate fragrance. Plants flower earlier in the year and the individual flowers are smaller.
A rather notable trait of the French-Roman Hyacinth is that each bulb will “throw” several spikes of flowers, which tends to prolong the flowering period. This variety is quite easy to force (cause to bloom early) indoors in pots. The attractive flowers come in white, pink and blue.
Plant Hyacinths and Daffodils together for a contrasting scene of both color and shape.
Muscari or Grape Hyacinth is a delightful plant. This member of the Lily family looks like a miniature Hyacinth. The plant is an excellent variety for potting and also suitable for outdoor culture, where it is relatively hardy.
These small plants only achieve a height of between 6 and 8 inches. Each Muscari flower looks as if it has small beads strung together up and down the plant’s stem.
Grape hyacinth bulbs start from tiny fleshy bulbs. Always remember the smaller bulbs usually tend to dry out much easier than the larger ones. Plant them early in the fall to ensure they get adequate moisture.
Muscari can grow in light shade or full sun and are not too picky. Try to avoid extremes and don’t plant them where the soil stays too dry or too wet.
Be cautious of where you plant grape hyacinth bulbs since they can spread quite quickly. They can also be very invasive.
Make sure you plant them where you do not mind if they spread freely such as under shrubs as opposed to the area around the edge of a properly planned garden area.
Grape hyacinth bulbs are available from late summer onwards, and sold in pre-pack bags. Select firm bulbs with no signs of rot or damage that can lead to rot.
When planting grape hyacinth bulbs:
Loosen the soil and remove any stones, competing roots, and weeds from the planting area.
Plant bulbs in groups of 10 or more, set them twice as deep as their height and space them several inches apart.
Leaves start developing quickly. Simply ignore them. Fall is when grape hyacinths start sending their leaves up out of the ground. It may seem strange to assume they wouldn’t survive as winter takes effect. Amazingly, they are quite reliable each fall after the first year of growing.
If you are wondering whether it is appropriate to prune grape hyacinths, the answer is – you do not have to. However, if you want to clean them up a bit, trimming is perfectly in order.
In mid-spring, the grape hyacinth flower spikes arrive. Depending on the varieties planted you may see some variation in color, but the most common color is smoky blue.
Caring For Grape Hyacinth Bulbs
Once they flower, grape hyacinths do not require much care. They don’t need fertilizer and do fine with natural rainfall. After the leaves die off, you can cut them back. New leaves will grow in the fall reminding you of the lovely grape hyacinth flowers to look forward to once spring kicks in.
Grape hyacinths sometimes suffer from virus diseases. If you do notice signs of a virus infection, dig up the affected areas and leave the area barren for several years and destroy all affected bulbs.
Lilies are some of the most fascinating flowers in the entire plant kingdom. Nowhere else can you find such dazzling colors combined with distinctive floral shape, plus the ability to brighten your garden from early Spring to late Summer.
For many years, the rumor persisted that Lilies were hard to grow, but this is true only of certain varieties and not of those usually offered through garden centers.
Lilies require excellent drainage and liberal quantities of moisture. The soil should be deep, rich and somewhat on the loose side. Lilies perform best if the roots stay cool. However, while a damp, cool root zone is advisable, the flowers demand their place in the sun.
In areas subject to hot Summers, planting should occur in filtered sunlight, whereas Lilies thrive in an entirely open exposure in coastal zones. In any event, do not crowd Lilies between other high-growing varieties which might deprive them of their needed sunshine.
One effective way of keeping the root zone damp is to apply a mulch at planting time. Peat moss or leaf mold will suffice, and expert Lily growers also claim that old and thoroughly rotted manure works well. However, when using manure, make certain it is absolutely and completely rotted, or burning will occur, and both bulbs and roots will suffer.
Placing each bulb on a layer of sand aids in preventing or minimizing rotting, should moisture accumulate in the root zone. The depth of planting depends to a large extent on whether stem-rooting or basal-rooting varieties are planted.
Generally speaking, cover the basal or bulb-rooting varieties with 3 to 6 inches of soil. Set the stem-rooting varieties at a depth of 8 to 10 inches. After planting, and during the growing season, consider replacing the mulch every few months.
Not only will this treatment keep the surface cool, but will also discourage weed growth and minimize the need for cultivation which may injure the stem roots.
Plant lilies early in the season. Lilies are one type of bulbous material that just cannot wait, as the bulbs are never completely dormant. If they appear dried out on arrival, place them in wet peat moss for a few days before planting.
Lilies are heavy feeders, apply a bulb plant food several times during the growing season. To minimize alkalinity of the soil, water in a light application of agricultural sulfur into the ground, possibly twice during the season. Keep in mind that a heavy, soggy soil cannot possibly support Lily growth.
The lovely, delicate tones of Freesias make this plant a must for any Fall bulb-planting program. Although cultivated for at least 150 years, real popularity was not attained until about 60 years ago. Its prominence is due primarily to the fact that the colored forms occurred rather late in the history of Freesias.
The large, white Purity strain is still amazingly popular, but for exciting pastel shades turn to the newer varieties in violet-blue, golden-yellow, clear pink, lavender, rose and yellow with shades to orange.
Like so many other South African natives, the Freesia is not hardy for outdoor culture in areas subject to freezing weather.
However, Freesias are very much at home outdoors for Fall planting in all regions enjoying mild Winters, such as California, Florida and the lower part of the Southern States bordering the Gulf of Mexico. In other areas, the Freesia should be grown indoors, preferably in a sunny window.
Outdoors the bulbs (actually Freesia “bulbs” are not true bulbs but corms, which are solid pieces of underground stems) should be spaced about 2 or 3 inches apart and planted 2 inches deep. A sunny exposure is desirable, don’t crowd the corms as the plants require an airy environment. The pointed end of the corm should face upwards when planted.
If the soil is extremely heavy, place the corm on a cushion of sand.
Freesias grow best in a soil mixture of sandy loam and coarse sand to which fairly liberal quantities of bonemeal (or any well-balanced bulb food) have been added. Freesias enjoy a rather lengthy planting season; for a succession of blooms, make plantings at intervals of every 2 to 3 weeks. Water liberally, as the plants are relatively heavy drinkers.
Indoors, Freesias enjoy warm days, cool nights and a sunny exposure during the budding and flowering stages. If started in early Fall, the potted corms may be left in a cold frame, shaded until frost time and then moved indoors to a cool location (not above 45 to 50 degrees).
When the roots penetrate through the drainage hole in the pots, transfer the potted plants to a location receiving sunlight. Keep the soil reasonably moist throughout the growing period, and flower buds should start to show as early as January. Liquid plant food may be applied when the buds appear.
The Spring Crocus is among the first of the Fall-planted bulbs to appear in the new year. Start corms in early September and set in clumps or groups to provide a mass of color (individual plantings accomplish little). Crocus also performs elegantly in that part of a lawn where regular mowing is not required.
For this latter location, simply throw a handful of corms in the air and plant where they land. You need just to cut through the sod and set the corms at a depth of 3 inches.
The color range includes shades of white, white with blue or violet striping, blue, blue and violet, light violet and purple, dark purple, reddish-purple and yellow. A protected location will encourage earlier flowering.
Perhaps the real speed burner of the Fall-planted bulbs is the Autumn Crocus. These corms break into flower almost overnight; bulbs suppliers often complain that the flowers appear even before the corms are sold.
They make an especially delightful subject for indoor culture, as the corms only need to be set in a pebble-filled bowl or in a container of sandy soil.
The blossom of Autumn Crocus looks very much like that of the Spring Crocus, but the plant is decidedly distinct. Autumn Crocus is unique in that the flowers appear in Autumn and the foliage appears the following Spring.
Out-of-doors, the Autumn Crocus creates splendid effects when set close to evergreens and also does well in rockeries and rock gardens.
For sheer size of bloom, nothing can compare with the Amaryllis. This exciting African native can be grown outdoors in regions having mild Winters, and in the rest of the country as an indoor pot plant. The colors are amazingly brilliant, and the blooms can measure 10 inches across. 3 or 4 potted Amaryllis in your home will just about provide a complete flower show.
The bulbs are easy to grow, but make two specific demands:
At least 2/3 of the height of the bulbs must show above the surface.
When grown in a pot, Amaryllis likes to be crowded.
A 6-inch pot will very easily accommodate a good-sized bulb since very little space should separate the bulb from the sides of the growing container.
Amaryllis flowers are gorgeous and attention-capturing because of the tremendous size of the flowers, often as large as a dinner plate.
Styles in Amaryllis change, and variety Bella Donna, which was once quite popular, is now seldom seen. (The pink-toned Bella Donna is often referred to as the “naked lady” because the flowers appear alone, The foliage being produced at a later date.) Today the big demand is for the hybrids, which offer some of the most vivid colors in the plant kingdom.
Amaryllis bulbs are quite large, possibly ten times larger than the average Gladiolus bulb. This means that a tremendous amount of food is contained in the bulb, and the plant draws on this nutrient storehouse until its feeding roots become established. Consequently, you are pretty well assured of success when growing this plant.
During the winter months protect plants from excess moisture, and providing adequate drainage is one way to solve this problem.
Use plenty of humus for outdoor culture and if growing the plants in pots, make certain to cover the drainage hole with a small piece of curved crockery. This provides for rapid drainage of excess moisture and will prevent the growing medium from clogging up the opening.
As an added bit of protection, the bottom of the pot should also have a layer of broken pieces of pottery.
For indoor culture, the Amaryllis, after being potted and well-watered, should be set in a dark, cool place having a temperature of about 50 degrees. For the first 6 to 8 weeks, it will be necessary to water only about once every 8 to 10 days.
As soon as the root system becomes fairly well established, move the plant to a lighted room but do not place it in direct sunlight until the plant greens up well. Water sparingly until the flowering section attains a length of 3 to 4 inches, and then water more liberally.
The flowers are splendid for cutting and floral arrangements indoors. It is advisable, however, to remove the pollen from the flowers before arranging them. This lengthens the life of the cut blooms and prevents the pollen from falling on the petals and spoiling their appearance.
Cut the stems about 4 inches above the surface to prevent rotting. The color range now available includes shades of white, dark red, scarlet, salmon, rose, orange and deeper shades of these colors striped with white.
9. Dutch Iris
Although Dutch Iris, in spite of its name, is a native of the relatively warm Mediterranean area, the bulbs will thrive even in the coldest of New England Winters. Where freezing conditions are common, it is advisable to plant the bulbs in October, in a sunny location about 4 to 5 inches deep and 5 to 12 inches apart.
For massed effects, the bulbs may be set as close as 3 inches apart, with larger flowers produced from wider spacing. Setting each bulb on a cushion of sand minimizes the danger of rotting after heavy rains. Mulching with straw or comparable material during the Winter in cold areas also will prove beneficial.
In the more temperate areas, such as California, Dutch Iris tends to become naturalized (acclimated). Thus, you may leave the clumps alone for possibly 3 to 5 years before digging and separating.
An open sunny location is advisable for the temperate growing regions. Although semi-shade will not harm the plants, dense shade must be avoided. Dutch Iris performs splendidly as a low-growing border plant and is especially colorful in rock gardens.
Named varieties of Dutch Iris are available; of which Wedgwood is perhaps the best known. Wedgwood is also the earliest to bloom, producing large, light blue flowers. This variety blooms at the same time as the King Alfred Daffodil and, as mentioned before, the two together form a most attractive scene.
Other colors you can discover in the Dutch Iris group include purplish-blue tinged with olive-green with a dark orange throat, violet, white, golden-yellow and golden-bronze shaded with bluish-purple.
10. Ranunculus and Anemones
Although only those living in areas enjoying mild Winters can plant Ranunculus during the Fall, this lovely flower must be included in any discussion of Fall bulbs. In the Southwest part of the United States, where they thrive to perfection, this amazingly easy-to-grow flower is undoubtedly the most popular subject for Fall planting.
The derivation of the name, Ranunculus, gives a clue to its culture. In Latin, the name relates to little frog, so called because the plants were found growing in damp meadows. Thus, plenty of water, accompanied by adequate drainage, will encourage Ranunculus.
In fact, forming basins around the plants to catch the water will prove an excellent procedure. Regular applications of plant food during the growing season produces a profusion of bloom and larger flowers.
Ranunculus corms look like tiny claws, plant the corms with the tips pointing downwards. Soaking the corms in water for several hours before planting speeds sprouting. Plant Ranunculus approximately 2 inches deep and 6 inches apart.
Ranunculus are available in a mixture of colors as well as in individual colors of red, orange, pink, gold and white. The improved strains are entirely double, giving the flower which appears in about 12 weeks, the appearance of a small pompom Dahlia.
Did You Know…
The Ranunculus bulb is not an actual bulb at all, but a solid piece of underground stem (corm), which should be planted with the tiny claws pointing downwards
It is almost impossible to discuss Ranunculus without also mentioning Anemones pronounced (An-nem-on-ee). These plants are not only “look-alikes,” but also enjoy the same growing conditions. Anemone corms are cone-shaped and like Ranunculus should be planted with the tips pointing downwards.
A diversified group of plants, known as Windflower and native to North America, Asia, and Europe. Anemones make excellent additions to the rock garden, in borders and woodland plantings.
Perhaps the main difference between these “twins” is that Ranunculus, at least the better strains, produces fully double flowers, whereas Anemones, which belong to the Buttercup family, have flowers with a more open appearance. Their Poppy-shaped flowers appear in brilliant hues of blue, red, pink and delicate white.
Establishing Windflowers (Anemone japonica) is not always easy. Anemones want a sandy rich loam with excellent drainage, plenty of moisture and respond well to applications of rotted manure.
They don’t like their roots disturbed and do best where they receive filtered sunlight. Propagation for all these is by seed and division of clumps or roots.
The Callas are African natives giving us a clue to their culture. The plants are found growing close to the Nile, flowering during the flooding period. When the flowers die away, the foliage ripens and falls over the root area.
More on Growing Calla Lilies
This nice gesture from Mother Nature protects the roots from the sun. Keep this in mind when growing Callas in your garden.
During the growing season, Callas require heavy watering. After the flowering season, as in their native habitat, a dry spell will prove ideal. Although not over-sensitive to soil conditions, adding peat moss will prove effective, as the peat moss retains moisture for long periods. Callas are most effective (look best and grow best) when planted close to a pool of water.
Not so long ago, the Calla was used mainly as a florist item for funerals, the only available variety being a white one. Today, however, you have your choice of pink, yellow and black in addition to the old time favorite, white.
White, Black, Pink and Yellow Callas
White, black and yellow Callas are all fairly hardy, the sensitive member of the family being the pink variety, which requires a starting temperature of 55 degrees.
The smaller-sized Yellow and Pink Callas are splendid pot subjects and may be transplanted outdoors when fairly well established. Generally speaking, all Callas prefer semi-shade but will succeed in full sun if given sufficient water.
The Yellow or Golden Calla is valuable, not only for its deep yellow flowers but also for the foliage which is green, speckled with hundreds of small white dots. The Yellow Callas may be grown outdoors, indoors as a potted plant, or the flowers used for decorative purposes.
The rare Pink Calla has a delicate carmine-rose tone.
The White Calla
The White Calla produces a large bloom with a wax-like appearance. The stems are sturdy and tall and the foliage a glossy, dark green. The flowers and bulbs (actually Calla “bulbs” are tubers, which are underground stems with eyes which put out buds from which roots develop) are quite small compared to the other Callas. The plant itself attains a height of only 1-1/2 feet at maturity, as compared with heights of 1 to 3 feet for the other varieties.
The Black Calla is perhaps the most striking and unusual of all the Callas. The rich, maroon-black flowers are amazingly beautiful in the garden and gorgeous in floral decorations. For a truly different bulb this is the one to plant.
12. Ixias, Sparaxis, Scillas, Snowdrop and Snowflake
Ixias, like many South African plants, are fairly tender. Although the corms can be planted outdoors only in mild winter areas, Ixias will prove a most desirable variety for indoor culture elsewhere.
A profusion of glistening lavender-blue flowers, which appear on sprays 2 to 3 feet tall, make this plant a real floral treat.
Gardeners who enjoy sprays of rainbow-colored flowers adorning their gardens can turn to Ixias Pronounced Ik-see-uh, for a stunning display! Choose from an array of bright, exotic flowers in yellow, red, white, pink or even the deep turquoise variety to complement the existing plants in your garden.
Ixias, are more commonly known as wandflowers and African corn lilies. Characterized by small clusters of tiny blooms settled on each stem, each blossom can display one or more colors, sometimes sporting contrasting blotches and opposite-colored spots making them a sight to see! Who can resist the sight of cute, star-shaped blooms showing up in late spring?
Ixia bulbs are deciduous perennials growing in the winter and sleeping during the summertime. They grow best planted outdoors in the fall in USDA zones 7-10. During winter in USDA gardening zones, 6-7 cover with a heavy layer of mulch during winter. In USDA gardening zones 4-5 plant Ixia in the spring
Ixia bulbs grow happiest when planted outdoors during the summer and can also grow in hanging baskets or pots if desired.
Choose an area with a fast well-draining soil that gets plenty of sun. If the soil needs more drainage incorporate several inches of peat moss, compost, etc. into the top 12 inches of soil.
Plant Ixia bulbs 3 -5 inches deep. When planting multiple Ixias, space them approximately 4 inches apart. Fill back in with soil and firm around the bulb with your hands. Water well.
Easy on the water when first planting. Once established kept the soil moist. Fertilize sparingly using a low-nitrogen fertilizer and follow package instructions.
When growing Ixia bulbs in colder locations, instead of lifting them for winter consider planting the bulbs in a large container and sink the pot into the ground. When frost approaches pull the pot from the ground and store in a location where temperatures range from 65-75 F.
Display Ixias on paths, or in groups with other border plants. Brighten up your house with the finest cut selections from the Ixias plant.
Sparaxis is closely related to the Ixia and requires relatively the same growing care. The plants are more compact in stature, however, attaining a height of just about 6 inches at maturity. The flowers, which appear in profusion during the Spring months, are quite distinct, with yellow petals and black centers.
When planting Sparaxis bulbs they only need a covering of 2 inches of soil and it only takes a few minutes to poke them into the ground. Once established colorful spring bloom awaits you.
Planting In Outdoor Beds Or In Pots and Containers
Plant in a location with well-draining soil that receives full sun.
Dig holes for the bulbs 2″ inches deep and 4″ inches apart.
Plant with the pointed end up, and roots down. In soft soil, simply push bulbs into the soil with your thumb – no digging required.
Water well after planting. Roots and sprouts will develop during the fall and winter months. Flowers develop in the spring.
Once the blooming season ends do not remove the foliage, the leaves help the bulbs grow and strengthen for future flowering.
During active growing periods apply about 1″ inch of water per week.
Plants go into dormancy in late summer; leaves begin to die and remove the foliage at this time. Before starting the next growing cycle the sparaxis will rest for a few months.
If you live in a region with an exceptionally cold winter, some species do not handle this weather well. When the plants stop growing, dig up the bulbs, store them and replant them when the weather is milder.
If you want a flower not requiring a great deal of work to thrive, Sparaxis may be perfect for you.
Scillas are quite hardy and grow outdoors in practically all sections of the country. The Bluebell Scillas produce masses of exquisite blooms which are bell-shaped and carried on graceful spikes 12 to 18 inches in height. The Scilla tolerates both sun and shade and is a splendid specimen for naturalizing and for rock gardens.
Scillas are most popular for how they naturalize in lawns and gardens, turning the ground into a fantastic carpet of pink, blue, or white in early spring. Many gardeners love the color blue in their gardens, as it blends well with whites and pinks, and contrasts the golds and yellows crisply well.
The Scilla plant family offers some of the best blues you can find, from the conspicuous eye-catching blue of the Scilla Peruviana to the blue-purples of the amethystine and carefree blues of the tubergeniana. Every garden that celebrates spring should have these plant sparklers!
The common name for the Scilla plant is the Siberian Squill. As you may have guessed, the plant is native to Siberia and some other parts of Russia. It’s a tough little plant that thrives in cold conditions and naturalizes very well.
They emerge first as grass-like foliage, which reaches heights of about 6 to 8 inches. Stems of about the same height come immediately after the foliage, and these hold about three royal blue flowers. As the flowers fade, the plant produces seed that should take root where they land. The plant can reproduce itself so readily to the point that it becomes weedy or invasive in some areas.
Planting the Scilla Plant
The ideal location for the Scilla plant is full morning sun and under the afternoon’s shade. The soil, rich in organic matter, and well drained helps prevent bulb or root rot.
Working in a 2-inch layer of compost before commencing on the planting process can improve the organic content of the soil.
Dig holes of up to 5 inches deep and plant the Siberian squill bulbs with the pointed end up during fall. Be sure to space the bulbs about 2 to 4 inches apart. You should expect blooms of 2 to 3 weeks during early spring.
While Scilla does best in full morning sun and partial shade, you can plant them almost anywhere. For instance, you can plant them under deciduous trees, which is an excellent idea because they will have completed their bloom cycle before the trees start to leaf out.
Lawns can also be ideal since the Scilla will complete the bloom cycle before your lawn needs mowing. You should wait until the foliage starts to die back before you mow. Should you decide to use a weed killer, do it during fall instead of spring.
Plant Scilia bulbs in locations where they can roam freely. Plant them in your lawn to light it up, and enhance the natural look of your property. Plant them at the edge of a woodland, under a tree, or throughout your rock garden.
They can also grow in various containers, and even force them to bloom several months early. Use them as spring decorations as centerpieces or on your doorsteps.
When mixed with other spring bulbs that bloom a bit earlier such as the glory-of-the-snow and Snowdrops, you can easily extend the show. Another great way to plant them is placing them under the Forsythia.
Since Scilla plants won’t be around after the cool early months of spring, they require little maintenance. Avoid mowing the foliage until after the flowers bloom (about 6 weeks). Give the plants time to create and store sufficient energy before they go dormant.
If you need to transfer your plant, you can save the seed or move a clump of bulbs. The ideal time for transporting bulb is during fall, though it’s easier to find them in bloom. Be sure to keep them well-watered after you move them.
Snowdrop and Snowflake
Two other interesting varieties for Fall bulb planting are the botanically related Galanthus, known as “Snowdrop,” and Leucojum, known as “Snowflake,” both of which are splendid for naturalizing.
The bulbs of exceedingly easy-to-grow Galanthus, which you should plant close together (about 3 to 4 inches deep), produce bell-like flowers. Leucojum is characterized by the green tips of the flowers and enjoys practically the same culture as its running-mate.
To add interest to a beautiful and unique garden consider adding Fritillaria plants to it. These gorgeous bulbs are popular in botanical gardens and brings a bit of a sophisticated look to your place.
Available in a variety of colors and patterns, their care is pretty easy once you understand what this lily bulb and flowers need.
The most popular choice for those first attempting to plant the fritillaria is the Crown Imperial Fritillaria. If you live in zones 5 through 9, begin there.
Order bulbs early from a reputable vendor. When bulbs arrive in early fall, you need to have everything prepared for planting. Unlike seeds, which will wait for you to put in water or soil, the bulbs have a reputation for growing roots inside of the packaging if left too long.
Make sure to handle the package and bulb with care when removing them.
Tips for Planting and Care
Choose a container for planting and place a couple of inches of fine gravel at the bottom for good drainage. Otherwise, you can end up with root rot. You can also use sand or a mixture of the two. (Buy your sand from the gardening center and not from your local beach!)
The soil itself needs an ample serving of bone meal mixed in as well as a high-quality compost. Place the bulb on a layer of sand and add several inches of the soil mix covering it completely.
Water generously then and regularly during the growing season. Fritillaria will quit flowering in the middle of the summer. When that occurs, cut back the stems.
The plant likes sunlight with some partial shade, particularly in warmer zones. Try to keep the roots cool and the soil moist. When planting give them sufficient room to grow. Fritillaria reach a maximum height of four or five feet high!
Every couple of years, remove the young bulbs and replant. Develop a good rotation schedule and you will always have these unique, attractive flowers in your garden.
Whether you choose a solid, checkerboard or other patterns for your original bulbs, visitors to your garden will notice your savvy gardening choice.
Fritillaria lilies are all gorgeous, and you can add these bulbs to your current garden to give it aesthetic appeal that you will appreciate, and the neighbors will envy!