NEIGHBORHOOD GARDEN FOR AUGUST 30, 2008
BY GLADYS JEURINK
It is time to
think about next spring!!! The first of September is a good time to go
looking for bulbs in your favorite garden center. If you ordered bulbs
from a catalog be prepared because some of the bulbs must be planted
early. Others won’t even
come until later. People usually think of tulips when bulbs are
mentioned. They are gorgeous the first year but then they gradually
decline. Lately some
growers have been advertising “perennial tulips” that will last a
little longer. There are a few rules you have to follow if you want to make
them all live longer:
Don’t cut off the foliage before it turns brown.
Don’t plant too early as the soil will be too warm and they may
break dormancy and then not survive winter.
To have tulips
in the warm south or if you are going to force tulips for blooming
around Thanksgiving or Christmas, the bulbs must be chilled in a
refrigerator (35-40 degrees F) for 8 to 10 weeks (not the freezer). Then
there are the wild or species tulips, usually shorter and smaller
blooms. These are not as easy to find as they are not as popular. I have had several beds for 7 to 10 years that bloom every
Narcissus, and Daffodils will last for years if planted in full sun and
their roots are not in a wet area.
Most people use these three terms interchangeably.
They come in many sizes and heights.
One of the questions I frequently get is “My jonquils haven’t
bloomed this year. What happened?” If they do well in their spot, they
will grow into a larger and larger clump until the bulbs become so
crowded they cannot manufacture enough food to make blooms any more.
Wait until the foliage fades and then dig while you can find
them. You can plant them
again immediately or you can let them dry and plant in the fall.
I prefer having their new home ready and plant at once.
There are any number of color combinations for you to choose
from. One of my favorites
are the mini’s such as “Tête-à-Tête” which is only about 6
inches high so that I can tuck 6 to 12 bulbs in a tiny space in front of
a rock or near the edge of a path.
There are many
fall planted bulbs to make spring and summer more exciting plus there
are fall blooming ones that have to be planted at once or they will
bloom in their sack. These are the autumn crocus (Colchicum)
in white, pink, and violet. They may be shipped to you as early as
August, bloom and then disappear to have the foliage come up in the
spring. What a surprise to
find a huge CROCUS blooming
in August. For this reason I plant my bulbs near the edge of a path so I
won’t miss them!!!
There are a
number of bulbs not so common but that are gorgeous and some are pricey.
One of my favorites is the FOX TAIL LILY (Eremurus sp)
also called the DESERT CANDLE.
They grow tall and slender but don’t flop easily.
Some are not hardy in zone 5 and if they are it is safer to pile
compost on top after the first hard freeze. Some are said to reach 7
feet but my tallest ones have been about 5 feet. After blooming they die
back. The roots which you
receive are a tangled mass that break apart easily.
The top half of the bloom stems are covered with bright yellow,
pink, orange, or white blooms of very bright colors.
Sadly, I have never had them live over 3 years. As a native of
Afghanistan they don’t seem to like Nebraska.
The first bulb
to bloom for me in spring is usually the SNOWDROP
(Galanthus sp). Only 4-10 inches high with 2-3 inch flower spikes of
dainty, bell shaped white flowers with a little green that disappears
quite easily after blooming. Nearly
every year they are snowed on but they stand up again at once.
A signal that winter will soon be over.
There are a number of DWARF IRIS, only 4-6 inches tall with velvet petals.
Some have spots and some with darker veins. Some are hardy to
zone 3 that bloom long before the bearded ones.
These are called BULBOUS IRIS while the large IRIS
are rhizomatous. Bulbous
will die back after blooming so they can be divided while you can still
find them and replant immediately in a drier area to prevent rotting. The little IRIS
are referred to as “non-bearded”.
HYACINTHS (Muscari sp) are
very small, innocent looking bulbs that grow up to about 6 inch purplish
blue spikes. I say innocent
because several years ago I planted about 25 in high shade.
The last few years they have multiplied many times and have
completely filled a large area. Last
fall I dug them all up as they were even taking my path!!! Guess what?
This spring the patch was bigger and thicker and bluer than ever!!! They
die down after blooming but come again in August and September. Now when
I want to plant something in there I dig the proper size hole, throw the
dirt in the wheelbarrow, sort out the bulbs to make room for the new
plant, then replace the soil.
impressive, 2 to 3 foot tall bulbs that rot easy are the FRITILLARIA
IMPERALIS. Sellers recommend putting sand in each hole for drainage.
Another suggested planting on its side. The bulbs are big. There
are red and yellow ones which are very brightly colored. At the top of
the stem is a leafy bract pointing up. Just under are the bell like blooms about 2 ½ inches long in
a circle around the stem. I
have never had them live over 2 years.
I need a sloping area that doesn’t get watered after they die
back. They are so gorgeous and different it is worth a try!!!
also called QUAMASH are
native to the United States and were eaten by some Indian Tribes as well
as the Lewis and Clark expedition.
They like moisture but not wet feet.
The only ones I have seen have been in different shades of blue.
The flower stems come up leafless to 24 inches and have been
called WILD HYACINTHS as
there are a number of star shaped blossoms the length of the stem.
They too disappear in summer so you need some kind of a marking