Cyclamen neapolitanum - Hardy Cyclamen
Most of us have at one time or another enjoyed the beautiful Cyclamen plant indoors during the winter season. This wonderful flowering bulb loves a cool to cold room and once the flowers begin in October, they will continue well into March. A cousin from the Mediterranean is now available to plant in the garden this spring for late summer and fall flowers. Its name is Cyclamen neapolitanum and is very free flowering in the garden. The leaves are heart shape and attractive with unusual variegation on them. The plant will grow 6 inches tall and about 12 inches wide. The flowers develop on strong stems 8 to 10 inches tall. The flower resembles a tiny butterfly two tone pink in color with the flower petals pointing up. The foliage is evergreen during the winter but does die back in the heat of summer to return with new foliage in the late summer and flowers. The plant is ideal to naturalize in shaded areas like a wooded tree grove, in rock gardens, or at the base of large evergreens. Plant in groups for special effects and it will give you the appearance of a ground cover. The bulb will do very well under pine trees and is able to survive with the tree roots. Plant the Cyclamen in the garden after you have condition the soil with peat moss, compost, and animal manure. When planting set the bulb 3 inches deep and space bulbs 12 inches apart. Feed with super phosphate fertilizer each spring to encourage a showy flowering period in the fall.
Vallota speciosa - Scarborough lily
Would you love a container plants that is easy to grow outdoors during the summer and your able to bring it in indoors for the winter. Now if the plant kept its beautiful foliage all winter for you to enjoy and it flowered it would be a real plus. There is such a plant and it is called the Scarborough lily. This new specie looks a lot like an Amaryllis bulb we all know and love. The plant has attractive strap like foliage that is attractive and glossy green. A beautiful deep red blossom appears in the summer on stems that are large and strong. Each stem holds 4 to 6 large flowers 3 to 4 inches wide creating a cluster up to 12 inches in diameter. The flowers resemble a lily and are more attractive and last longer while in bloom. The foliage is evergreen and you should keep it growing all year. Plant 3 bulbs in a large container 12 to 14 inches wide in the early spring. Set the bulbs 4 to 6 inches deep in the container. Make sure the pot has good drainage and the soil is rich in organic matter and compost if you want the plant to thrive. Feed monthly all year with a water-soluble fertilizer that is high in phosphorous. Keep the pot in a sunny location and it will thrive for you. The bulb will divide itself when established in the contained and that will take up to 3 years.
Eucomis autumnalis-'White Dwarf' - Pineapple Lily
A fancy leaf plant with large white flowers that resemble a pineapple is almost a requirement for your perennial border. This unusual bulb produces flowers that will create interest in your garden for all who venture into your garden. The plant is called the "Pineapple lily" which means 'beautiful headed'. The flower looks tropical and will remain interesting for many weeks in your garden. Plant in a container or directly in the garden as long as you condition the soil with a lot of compost and animal manure. The soil should be well drained but never allowed to dry out during the summer. The flowers begin in late summer July and last thru August or until the fall when the frost kills the plant back to the ground. The bulb is not winter hardy and must be stored in the basement for the winter. The foliage is broad with a spread of 12 to 15 inches wide. The flower form in the center of the plant on a strong and thick stems 12 to 15 inches tall. The flower looks like a spike with tightly arranged white flowers about ½ inch wide on the top of this stem. On top of the flower spike is a grouping of leaf-like bracts that gives the flower the appearance of a pineapple. Plant in the spring when the soil warms up and dries-up. Fertilize monthly with a water-soluble fertilizer and water when the weather gets hot and dry. The plant will split to form additional bulbs when it is 3 years old. Bulbs are inexpensive so plant several together usually 4 inches deep and 12 inches apart.
This summer how about planting some flowering bulbs that are exotic looking for cut flowers. One of my favorite summer bulbs is the Crocosmia Lucifer a wonderful summer flowering plant that has brilliant red, deep orange or bright yellow flowers. The flower resembles a branched arching spray of funnel shaped flowers. The foliage is sword-like, erect and deep green like a gladiolus. The foliage grows to 18 to 24 inches tall and the blooms forms inside the foliage about half way up the leaf. The stems are strong and hold the flowers up easily making a great cut flower. Plant in the spring when the soil warms up and condition with peat moss, animal manure and compost. A sunny location is best suited for this beautiful flower. The soil should also be well drained and sandy rather than a heavy clay type. Standing water will kill the bulbs. Fertilize monthly with a water-soluble fertilizer. In the fall after the frost has killed the foliage dig up the bulbs and store in a basement for the winter. Butterflies and hummingbirds love this plant and if you have a perennial border in a windy location, it will tolerate the wind. The Crocosmia will tolerate difficult areas in the garden where many plants will not. Best of all bulbs are inexpensive and multiply each year in the ground. Plant in groupings of 10 or more bulbs and be sure spaced them 4 inches apart and 3 inches deep in the garden.
Sandersonia Aurantiaca - Chinese Lantern, Christmas Bells
Are you looking for something unusual to add to your bulb collection, then how about the Christmas Bells? This plant is scarce and rare so you might have to look around for it. Christmas Bells are native to South Africa that grows well outdoors during the summer. After a frost, the plant must be lifted from the garden in the fall and stored in your basement during the winter. The plant is a tuber that resembles your fingers. Like other bulbs are planted in the spring in a large container of soil. This plant will need support and you must provide a trellis or thin stakes to climb-up. A great container plant for short growing seasons that will do well on the patio or decks during the summer. Be sure to store container and all in the basement or room where it will not freeze. When planting in the spring set tubers 4 inches deep in a large pot 12 to 14 inches in diameter filled with a well-drained sandy potting soil. Keep the container in full sun and feed every 2 weeks with fish and seaweed fertilizer. The plant will grow 3 feet tall and the foliage resembles the lily plant. The flowers that develop are orange in color and resemble a chefs cooking hat. A solitary flower will develop where the leaf is attached to the stem on the upper branches. The flowers weep down on short stems 2 to 3 inches long and the eye-catching flower is about 1 inch tall and wide. When planted in May the flowers arrive in august and last for several weeks or until a hard frost kills the top of the plant. Look for Sandersonia aurantiaca or Christmas Bells where unusual bulbs are sold.
Nerine bowdenii bulb
Do you like surprises in the flower garden then this spring plant the Nerine bowdenii bulbs for a real treat this fall? The flowers are long lasting, 3 weeks or more in a pot of soil, or 2 weeks as a cut flower in a vase of water. At the end of the season when most plants are about to give up flowering, this plant is just beginning. Planted in the spring the bulb makes leaves 10 inches to 12 inches long and 1 inch wide in a clump. During the summer, enjoy the foliage and wait, as flowers don't develop until September. You are planting in pots because the bulb is not winter hardy and because it is flowering late in the season. If the weather gets frosty the flowers are done for the year but in a pot you can bring it inside the house to extend the blooming period. When the flowers go by, store the potted plant in your basement until spring. No water is needed while dormant in your basement. In May bring outdoors, water and fertilize to repeat the process. Nerine is a autumn-flowering member of the amaryllis family. The flowers are pink, narrow, crinkled, long lasting and resemble a sparkler on the Fourth of July. The stems that hold the flowers are 12 to 20 inches tall depending on your soil. If you condition the soil with compost, and animal manure before planting in containers the plants will grow better and be more productive. When planting be sure to let the neck of the bulb stick out of the soil, just like you plant the Giant Amaryllis bulb in the house. Bulbs will multiply easily.
Ixia [African Lily
Summer is the time of the year that we enjoy fresh cut flowers from the garden, and there is no prettier cut flower than the Ixia [African Lily]. This is another inexpensive summer flowering bulb with super results. They love the sun and heat so plant bulbs in a sunny location 3 inches deep, 2 inches apart and in groups of 10 or more. The foliage is grass like and narrow. The flowers come on wiry slender stems that are strong for arranging in a vase of water. When used as a cut flower it will last for 2 weeks or more. The flowers develop as a spike flowering from the bottom to the top. Each flower is star-shaped and brightly colored with several shades of color on the bloom, usually with a darker center. Planted In the garden, the flowers last 4 to 6 weeks during July and August. The soil should be rich and fertile containing manure and compost to increase the brightness of the color of the flowers. A well- drained soil is preferred and you should avoid wet spots in the garden. The bulbs multiply during the summer and by the fall, you will have twice as many as you planted. These bulbs are not winter hardy and must be dug in the fall and stored in your basement during the winter. Replant in the spring as soon as the ground warms up.
Fancy Leafed Caladiums
If you have a light shade garden and your looking for a bulb plant that is unusual and will become a conversation piece, look no further than the fancy leafed Caladiums. These tubers produce very unusual foliage and the flowers are nothing to talk about, it's the leaves. The plant will grow 12 to18 inches tall and just as wide if you prepare the soil properly. Caladiums love a rich soil with a lot of peat moss, animal manure and compost. A 50-50, blend 50% soil and 50% organic matter or the plants do not fill in with many new leaves. Morning or late in the day sun is tolerated but not during the heat of the day. Fertilize monthly with a granular fertilizer designed for flowers. Caladiums do not like to be watered frequently or planted near a sprinkler system. The frequent watering will cause brown spotting on the beautiful leaves. Tubers can be started indoors during April or May to give the plant a head start on the growing season. When threat of frost is over set plants directly into the garden or set pots on deck, patio or porch for enjoyable foliage from late May till frost in the fall. The bulb is not winter hardy, so be sure to dig it up in the fall after a good frost. Store the potted bulbs in the basement or loose bulbs in peat moss also in the basement. Plant several Caladium tubers together in the same pot for better color. I like to plant several groupings of different colors of Caladium side by side for spectacular effects. The red, pink and white combinations will standout in your garden and the neighbors will start talking. The talk is about your garden not theirs, enjoy.
The longest lasting cut flower that comes as a bulb is the Star-of-Bethlehem [Chincherinchee] and it is absolutely necessary for your cut flower garden. It is also inexpensive and for the finest show of color, plant in groups of 10 or more bulbs per hole. These bulbs love the sun and rich soil, so be sure to add a lot of animal manure and compost at the same time you plant the bulbs. Set them in the ground 2 to 3 inches deep and 3 to 4 inches apart. The soil should drain well, as this bulb will not tolerate wet spots in the garden. Plant in the spring and the flowers will bloom from June to August in the garden. As a cut flower, it is not uncommon to have this bulb bloom for over 3 weeks. The flowers open from the bottom of the spike to the top and you will often have over 10 blooms open at one time. This compact spike produces flowers that are star-shape and about 1 inch wide. The stems are strong and easy to work with as a cut flower. These stems will grow to around 12 to 15 inches tall. The bulbs will multiply easily and are not winter hardy so they must be dug in the fall after a hard frost. Store the bulbs in your basement for the winter and replant in the spring. There is a new hybrid orange in color and beautiful but more money and worth it. The foliage is grass like and not anything special but the blooms make up for that.
About the time you're planting gladiolus in the garden this spring how about trying something new that will wake up your garden and excite your flower arrangements indoors. This bulb is called Brodiaea [Queen Fabiola] and if you talk to your local florist, they will tell you how wonderful it is. As a cut flower, it will last 2 weeks or more in a vase of water or left alone in the garden, the flowers should last 4 to 6 weeks. The foliage resembles a coarse grass but when the flowers appear you are in for a real treat. The blue/purple flowers will appear in June on 12 to 18 inch stems in a spreading umbrella type cluster. Each stem contains 10 or more 1 inch star shape flowers that seem to last forever. When planted in groups of 10 or more bulbs, the flower cluster resemble an explosion of fireworks on the Fourth of July. This is an inexpensive bulb to plant and a must for great cut flowers. Plant Brodiaea in full sun and a soil that has good drainage. Conditioning the soil is desirable for 2 reasons. The better the soil, the stronger the stems will be, and if the soil is conditioned with animal manure, peat moss and compost, the bulbs will multiply in numbers during the summer. Plant 25 bulbs and by fall have 50 or more. The Brodiaea bulbs resemble a Crocus. Plant in the ground 2 to 3 inches deep and 2 inches apart. In the fall, bulbs must be dug and stored in your basement for the winter. At that time of the year you can separate the offsets and replant in the spring. When planting bulbs add a hand full of superphosphate to stimulate root growth and a hand full of chicken manure to prevent animals from eating bulbs.
Anemone 'De Caen'
Are you looking for a beautiful summer cut flower or bulb plant that will force well indoors, during the winter? Look no further than the Anemone 'De Caen'. The Anemone is also known as the 'windflower', as the large petals catch the slightest breeze and pivot left to right on its long thick stems. The blooms are always a colorful surprise when planted in groups in the flower garden. In the garden they bloom for several months and as a cut flower the individual stems will last for 7 to 10 days. Plant the bulbs in a rich soil with a lot of organic matter such as compost and manure. The bulbs will do best in a sunny and warm spot in a pot or directly in the garden. If you're planting in your garden start plants indoor for early color in the garden. Direct plant in May in most cold climates and dig up in the fall after a frost has put the plant to rest for the winter. The bulb or corns are not winter hardy in the northern states. The flower grows 12 inches tall and you should space the bulbs 6 inches apart in the garden. Plant in September for a great potted winter flowering plant.
Giant Dutch Iris
July is the time of the year most of us want color in the garden and among the best winter hardy bulbs is the Giant Dutch Iris. I like to plant them in groups in the perennial garden in assorted colors because of the dramatic effect it makes. They also make a great cut flower for summer arrangements. You can plant in the spring or fall 3 inches deep and 2 to 3 inches apart. The flower stock will be 12 to 18 inches tall and last about 10 to 14 days in the garden or 7 days in a vase. They love the sun and if the soil is warm the bulb will multiply from year to year. When planting mix compost and manure to encourage a strong root system and the plant will return and flower every year. Butterflies and humming birds will visit the flowers when in bloom. Look to plant the more unusual flower colors, as they will become conversations plants with gardening friend
If you're looking for elegance in the garden or something more exotic looking may I suggest the Calla Lily. This plant is known for its upright funnel-shaped flowers often used for wedding work in the bridal bouquet. The flowers come in many colors from yellow, salmon, pink and the most popular white. The foliage is also unusual because it is covered with delicate white spots. The flowers come on strong stems 15 to 18 inches tall so plant them 2 to 3 inches deep and space them 6 inches apart. They love a rich soil filled with manure and compost. They also love to be fertilized every 2 weeks if you want more flowers during the summer. The bulbs are not winter hardy and must be stored in your basement for the winter. Covered with peat moss or if grown as a potted plant keep in container of soil for the winter and repot in the spring. The Calla Lily can also be grown as a water plant if potted and covered with up to 12 inches of water. Great for water gardens but store in basement in dry state for the winter.
Finding good color in the late summer, early fall is difficult but here is one bulb that will cause excitement in your garden. The Montbretia is a beautiful spike flower that comes in shades of red, orange and yellow. The blooms come on stems 15 to 18 inches tall and last for several weeks in the garden or 2 weeks in a vase of water. Plant in the spring when the garden warms up, mid may. Condition the soil with compost and animal manure before planting and be sure to fertilize monthly. Plant bulbs in groupings of 10 or more and for a dramatic look in your garden space bulbs 6 inches apart and 3 inches deep. The bulb is not winter hardy and must be dug in the fall and stored in your basement covered with peat moss. The plant will grow in full sunny locations to partial shade but does best in the sun. When you dig up the bulbs in the fall you will notice that the bulbs have doubled in numbers a great plus for us. Butterflies love this plant and they will also grow in unsheltered areas.
The most spectacular summer cut flower is the Gladiolus and its 3 to 4 ft. tall flower spikes will excite even the most casual gardener. They love a sunny location and a soil that has been condition with compost and manure. Because the flower spike is so tall plant the bulbs in sheltered locations out of the wind. The blooming period is only a couple of weeks so if you want color all summer set out the bulbs at 2 week intervals starting in early May. The bulbs are inexpensive. They will last from year to year if you dig them up in the fall, after a hard frost. When you dig them up you will find two bulbs one on top of the other. Pull them apart and keep the top bulb for next year and toss out the bottom one. It is the old bulb you planted in the spring and it will not flower again. The bulbs are called corms and should be stored in your basement for the winter. I like to store them in an old pair of panty hose hanging from the rafters in the basement and they should be dusted with a garden dust to fight off potential problems while in storage. Plant the bulbs 4 inches deep and 6 inches apart and be sure to fertilize every 2 weeks. Do not plant glads in the same spot every year, move them around so the soil has time to rebuild itself.
One of the most popular bulb types perennial for the garden is the lily family. There are two families of bulbs that we most often plant, the Oriental and the Asiatic. The Asiatic type has been grown in the garden for its strong stems that bear a mass of brightly colored flowers. The flowers are eye catching, long lasting, and great for garden borders. The flowers are also long lasting and will bloom for up to 3 weeks in the garden or they can be cut for flower arrangements. Thru hybridization, a new family has been developed called the Oriental hybrids and they are truly spectacular. These bulbs produce flowers much larger, many of them are two-tone colored and they are fragrant often filling your garden with an exotic scent. Plant lilies in full to partial sun, and in a soil that is well drained, avoid clay soils. Plant the bulb 6 inches deep as they produce a root system under the bulb and on the stem that grows to the surface. Bulbs love a rich soil so mix at planting time animal manure and compost to encourage a healthy root system. Plant in the spring or fall for the best plants. Mulching around plant also help to keep plant happy during hot weather. If you want more flowers next year be sure to pick of the faded flowers to prevent them from forming seed pods. Plant in groups of three or more bulbs for the best show of color and space bulbs 6 inches apart so there is room for the bulb to divide in your garden. Best of all once planted they stay in the ground year round.
My personal favorite for the summer flower garden is the Dahlia bulb. They are one of the easiest flowers to grow in a sunny garden. The flowers are magnificent and a single plant can produce an endless amount of flowers all summer long until frost. They are not winter hardy but store easily in your basement when covered with a little peat moss. If your looking for a tall growing variety for a large display in a large garden try planting them in groups of 3 for a spectacular show. Some varieties grow up to 3 to 4 feet tall and produce flowers up to 12 inches in diameter. If you have, a flower border and want endless color look at the dwarf types. These plants produce an abundance of flowers in every color, shape, style and texture you desire. These bulbs will do very well in planters, window boxes and pots all summer long as long as you remove the faded flowers so is does not make seeds. The more you clean the more they flower. Plant bulbs in the spring directly in the ground or start indoors about a month before the last frost. This will give you a big jump on the growing season. Cover the bulb with 2 inches of soil when planting and be sure to condition the soil with peat moss and manure when planting. Feed often to encourage more flowers and increase the bulb to expand. The second spring you will be able to split the bulb in two and have two plants but wait until spring to do this or the bulbs will dry up while in storage.
A real rewarding bulb for spring planting in the garden and summer flowers or fall planting in pots for winter flowers is the Ranunculus. The Ranunculus is a very attractive plant with unusual tightly wrapped flower petals that resembles a tiny peony. This bulb resembles a bunch of bananas and when planting set the point down and cover the bulb with 1 to 2 inches of soil. Use fresh potting soil when planting in pots and in the garden condition with peat moss and manure. They love to be feed regularly and should reward you with 6 to 8 flowers per bulb. They are not winter hardy and must be dug up in the fall after a frost and stored in peat moss for the winter while being stored in your basement. You cannot grow both ways summer or winter blooming only. Keep plants in full sun to keep them compact and flower stems strong. The Ranunculus also makes a great cut flower for small vases and the flower colors are vivid with deep shades of yellow, orange, red, white, and pink. Its easy to grow and you will like it indoors our out.
A great bulb for indoor forcing during fall and winter or spring planting for summer flowers is the Freesias. Freesias are becoming increasingly popular every year because of the simplicity of growing and you can be grown for a cut flower. The flowers have a pleasing fragrance and the their flowers are bright and cherry. Each flower stem contains 10 or more flower buds making it a long lasting flower. Plant in flowerbeds for great summer color or pot up in the fall for much needed winter flowers. Plant the bulbs 2 inches deep in a rich soil for the best quality plant. The flowers resemble small trumpets, and they can be single or double flowering types. The flowers are made up of striking colors, bright reds, yellow, pink, purple, and white, and the foliage is grass like and long lasting. It is best to plant in groups of 6 to 10 bulbs. Its easy to grow and will re-bloom from year to year easily.
If you have a little shade during the summer, the Tuberous Begonias are the best bet for you. This family of light shade loving bulbs will do very well in the garden, in window boxes, hanging baskets or planters on your terrace or deck. The Tuberous Begonia is known for the many flowers they produce endlessly all summer long. If you want better flowers pinch out the first few buds of the double flowering types. Feed with a liquid fertilizer regularly but they are not heavy feeders. If your plants become leggy pinch them back at a leaf joint, they will produce new branches. When planting the bulbs use fresh potting soil that is well-drained and rich in organic matter. Cover the bulbs with 2 inches of soil and do not over water. The flower colors are bright and cherry. Look for fringed or smooth petals that come in shades of red, yellow, orange, pink, and two-tone. After frost in the fall, store the bulbs in the basement and cover with peat moss. Start bulbs in the spring indoors a month before putting the plants out for the season, it helps give them a head start.