11 October 2012

Plant Spring Bulbs Now in Pots or Plots


Nothing says spring like a pot or plot of tulips, daffodils, crocus and hyacinths. They are in the stores now because spring blooming bulbs are planted in the fall. Plenty of sun and good drainage are all they need.

Though they have been grown in Holland since 1590, tulips came from the near east originally. Because of their formal appearance, tulips look great in rigid beds in lines of color.

Purple, yellow, red and parrot tulips can be blended together or planted in banks/stripes of color. Plant early, mid-season and late blooming varieties in separate groups so you have flowering blocks of blooms rather than blotches.

While most hybrid tulips are annuals here, the small, non-hybrid (called species), tulips may return. Look for these Species tulips: bakeri, clusiana, kaufmanniana, saxatilis, sylvestris, tarda and whitallii.


Daffodils or Narcissus can bloom early, mid-season or late. They are reliable and will multiply. The variety of daffodils grows relentlessly and now includes miniature to large, short to tall, scented, pink as well as yellow, orange, white and bi-colored. Some are single, some flower in clusters and others are double. Poets bloom last, multiply, and naturalize.

Daffseek (daffseek.org), sponsored by the American Daffodil Society, is maintained by Nancy Tackett and Ben Blake. At the site, any daffodil name can be entered in order to get the details of its height, bloom time (early season (E), mid-season (M) or late season (L), and flower size/color.

Minor bulbs are ideal to plant in beds and to naturalize under trees and around shrubs. Because they have short leaves and tiny flowers, plant at least 25 or they will not be visible.

Minor bulbs include Chionodoxa, snowdrops, grape hyacinth (muscari), squill, crocus, anemone, fritillaria, Iris reticulata and species tulips.

Snowdrops (Galanthus) are planted 3-inches deep and apart. Chiondoxa, Muscari and Scilla will colonize, re-seeding to fill a bed. Chionodoxa can have up to 10 flowers per stem.

Species crocus such as Crocus chrysanthus, flavus, Sieberi, and angustifolius bloom early. Tomasinianus (Tommie) Ruby Giant can naturalize, perhaps because the squirrels do not prefer them. Crocus vernus Negro Boy is a durable historic variety.

 Crocus bulbs naturalize best in part-shade and in thin lawns where the soil is not treated with chemicals of any kind.

Grape hyacinths (muscari) vary from 6 to 12 inches tall and their white, blue, or violet flowers always edge a bulb garden nicely.

Hyacinths are favored for their scent. Spanish Bluebells, Hyacinthoides hispanica Excelsior, are critter resistant.

If the local stores do not have the bulbs and advice you are looking for, here are a few of the dozens of companies where you can shop -

Breck’s, http://brecks.com, 812-260-2147
Single and double tulips, Green Pearl Daffodil, Ornithogalum, hyacinths, muscari, etc. Check out the Deals link – 120 tulips or daffodils $67, 80 windflowers (anemone) $27.

Brent and Becky’s Bulbs, https://store.brentandbeckysbulbs.com, 804-693-3966
Known for good quality bulbs. The online catalog has plant descriptions, suggested companion plants that bloom at the same time, planting tips and whether the flower is deer resistant.

Mitsch Daffodils, www.mitschdaffodils.com, 503-651-2742
Garden and exhibition daffodil bulbs with many new hybrids and introductions including mineatures, standards, tazettas, pendants, scented, etc.

Old House Gardens, www.oldhousegardens.com, 734-995-1486
Heirloom bulbs that thrive in southern gardens, including fragrant, double, large cup, trumpet, and wild daffodils plus species, single, parrot and double tulips.

Southern Bulbs, www.southernbulbs.com, 888-285-2486
Bulbs for the south, including: Species tulips, spider lilies, Spanish bluebells and others.

Touch of Nature, www.touchofnature.com, 770-237-0993
Bulbs for gardens and large projects. Selections: Alliums, anemones, chiondoxa, hyacinths, crocus, daffodils, tulips, etc. They offer Bushels of Bulbs for large plantings, fundraising and collections.

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