Fall Bulbs by Mike Darcy

I think that it is fun to deviate and plant some bulbs that, perhaps, are new to you. Here are a few suggestions.

Relatives of the edible onion, Ornamental Alliums can make a beautiful showing in the early to mid-summer garden. The flowers usually appear in clusters on bare stems. There are many different sizes to choose from with some only getting 6 inches in height with others reaching 5 feet or more. Usually, the flowers are shades of blue but there are some pink and white forms. ‘Lavender Bubbles’ is a small compact type that would fit into most garden settings.

Ornamental alliums are colorful and beautiful.

Galanthus (Snowdrops) are among the first of spring bulbs to bloom. Their nodding, white, bell-shaped flowers are a signal that spring will soon be here. These are ideal for planting in rock gardens, under flowering shrubs, or to grow in pots. I have found that they like a little bit of shade or filtered sunlight. Galanthus ‘Flora Pleno’ has a double layer of white flower petals that are tipped green.

Snowdrops are a delicate flowering bulb for late winter.

When we think of daffodils, we usually think of the yellow flowering trumpet type. The trumpet types are very easy to grow and tend to naturalize much more so than tulips. Technically all daffodils are Narcissus’, but we usually refer to the trumpet type as daffodil. The selection ‘Julie Jane’ has a very unique flower form and is ideal in a pot.

Tulipa Julie Jane’ looks great when planted together in pots.

If you don’t mind waiting a few years, and your garden has the space and the right conditions, and if you want to make a spectacular statement with summer flowering bulbs, giant lily (Cardiocrinum giganteum), might be the plant for you. This is sometimes referred to as the Giant Himalayan Lily, and with good reason. Even though it might take it 5+ years to bloom, depending on the size of the bulb, it is well worth the wait. The flowering stem can reach 8 feet or more in height with 20+ fragrant flowers on a single stem. This bulb prefers a light shady location, a woodland setting could be ideal, and a soil rich in humus. Black Gold® Natural & Organic Garden Compost Blend would be a good addition at planting time.

Giant lily is a spectacular, tall lily for gardens in milder climates.

It seems as though the selection of fall bulbs expands every year and garden centers are offering more choices. That is good news for gardeners. If you have a special bulb you are looking for, buy early. With supply and transportation issues, garden centers do not always have an option to reorder. Think ‘out of the box’ when planting and don’t limit yourself to only planting in rows. Plant bulbs in mass plantings or groups. The reward in the spring will be worth it!

My giant lilies in full bloom.

About Mike Darcy

Mike lives and gardens in a suburb of Portland, Oregon where he has resided since 1969. He grew in up Tucson, Arizona where he worked at a small retail nursery during his high school and college years. He received his formal education at the University of Arizona where he was awarded a Bachelor of Science Degree in Horticulture, and though he values his formal education, he values his field-experience more. It is hard to beat the ‘hands on’ experience of actually gardening, visiting gardens, and sharing information with other gardeners. Mike has been involved with gardening communications throughout his adult life. In addition to garden writing, he has done television gardening shows in Portland, and for over 30 years he hosted a Saturday radio talk show in Portland. Now he writes, speaks, gardens and continues to share his love of gardening. To be connected to the gardening industry is a bonus in life for Mike. He has found gardeners to be among the friendliest and most caring, generous people. Consequently, many of his friends he has met through gardening.

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