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March 2012 Newsletter from Mary's Garden Patch

Summer Bulbs

Summer Bulbs

Think the bulb season is over when the last daffodil blossom fades? Think again! There are many blossoms yet to come this season. Discover a whole new world of bulbs -- Summer, or Tender Bulbs.

What is a tender bulb? The term "tender bulb" refers to plants which have fleshy storage structures (bulbs, corms, tubers, and roots) which are killed by cold winters if not brought indoors. You'll need to dig them up if it freezes in your area during the winter. After the first frost, let the leaves die down naturally, and then dig up the bulbs and store them in a cool dry place so you can replant them the following spring. An exception to this is Hymenocallis (Peruvian Daffodil), which should be dug before frost damages the plant. Be sure to dig carefully! Loosen the roots gently with a fork or spade, digging several inches back from the base of the plants so that the roots are not cut off. Re-plant your summer bulbs in the spring when you are certain that the ground will no longer freeze in your area. It may sound like a lot of trouble, but if stored properly Summer Bulbs will multiply and bloom again and again.

The meaning of bulb has expanded over the years, and we do use the term loosely on our website. Gardeners today use the word bulb to describe corms (babiana, gladiolas), tubers (caladiums), rhizomes (cannas, iris), and tuberous roots (dahlias). Even though they may look different, they are grown much the same way and are valuable additions in the perennial border, cutting garden, or as bedding plants.

If you stored cannas, dahlias, caladiums, callas, or gingers this winter, now is a good time to get them out of storage. If you start them indoors it will give you earlier blooms in the garden.

Did your normally tall bulbs disappoint this year? Blame it on Mother Nature. A warm winter will produce shorter stems in all bulbs and sometimes leaves and no flowers. Some bulbs that normally do quite well (like tulips and daffodils) may have put out only leaves this year due to the warm weather we had this past winter in most of the country. The reason for this is complicated, having to do mostly with the amount of coolness they receive in the winter. Tulips, for example, spend the summer in dormancy and come October they grow roots again. Using their sensitive root systems, they make decisions about whether or not they will bloom that year based on winter temperatures, water and soil conditions. With a "normal" amount of cold they should bloom just fine next year.

We carry many of the "bulbs" that do lovely through the summer, like Caladiums, Calla Lilies, Tuberoses and Crocosmia, as well as exotic tropicals like Ginger, Cannas and Elephant Ears. Big leaves and hot colors are the key to creating the hot tropical look. They can be grown in well-drained average garden soil anywhere there are at least 180 successive frost-free days and sufficient moisture.

Happy gardening.


Featured Products

White Queen Caladium George Davidson Crocosmia Mauna Loa Daylily Gloriosa Rothschildiana Amaricrinum

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