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For The Garden

Fall Bulbs for Spring Blooms

Author: Lori A. Johnson
Issue: November, 2017, Page 146
Photo by KENPEI
HARLEQUIN FLOWER
(Sparaxis tricolor)


Type: Perennial bulb

Blooms: Multiple; late spring

Size: 6-12"H by 3-5"W

Soil: Well-drained loam

Elevation: Low to medium

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water needs: Medium

Maintenance: Deadhead spent blooms if volunteers are unwanted, as this plant will self-sow. Sparaxis prefers dry summers during dormancy and more water during the winter growing season. 

Attracts: Flies

Note: Sparaxis is drought-tolerant and suitable for xeriscapes.

Why we like it: Multiple hybrids are available in an array of colors to produce carpets of spring color when planted in beds, borders or rock gardens. Sparaxis also grow well in containers and make excellent long-lasting cut flowers.



RAIN LILY
(Zephyranthes candida)


Type: Perennial bulb

Blooms: White; summer

Size: 6-12"H by 6-12"W

Soil: Well-drained, sandy

Elevation: Any

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water needs: Medium

Maintenance: Afternoon shade is best in hotter climates. Rain lilies are very low-maintenance and do not require supplemental water.

Attracts: Bees

Note: This species blooms sporadically all summer long, especially after monsoon rains and changes in humidity. The clumping foliage makes a grasslike ground cover between blooms.

Why we like it: Rain lilies make a charming accent for mixed borders and containers near patios or walkways where they can be easily seen during surprising post-rain appearances, especially when planted in masses.


Photo by Lori A. Johnson
PERSIAN BUTTERCUP
(Ranunculus asiaticus)


Type: Perennial bulb

Blooms: Multiple; spring

Size: 12-18"H by 6-12"W

Soil: Well-drained, sandy

Elevation: Low, middle

Light: Full sun

Water needs: Medium

Maintenance: Plant bulbs in November and begin watering once sprouts emerge. Deadhead spent flowers.

Attracts: Bees

Note: Ranunculus are a species of buttercup native to southern Europe and Asia. In hotter climates, they can be grown as annuals rather than perennials.

Why we like it: Persian buttercup are known for their use as long-lasting cut flowers in arrangements. They are available in a range of colors and cultivars that are prized for their large, showy, multipetaled blooms atop long, slender stems.




GIANT SCILLA
(Scilla peruviana)


Type: Perennial bulb

Blooms: Blue-violet; spring

Size: 6-12"H by 6-18"W

Soil: Well-drained, sandy

Elevation: Any

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water needs: Medium

Maintenance: Water through the dry season to maintain an evergreen appearance, or withhold supplemental water in summer and allow to go dormant until bulb sprouts after the first fall rain.

Attracts: Bees

Note: Giant scilla contains a glycoside similar to the drug digitalis, which is poisonous if ingested.

Why we like it: In the spring, dense clusters of deep blue-violet flowers lasting for several weeks bloom atop stalks as tall as 12 inches. Cultivars are available ranging from white to deep blue-violet, they do well in beds, borders or containers.


Other Favorites: Amaryllis (Hippeastrum spp.), aril iris (Iris spp.), bugle lily (Watsonia spp.), coral rain lily (Zephyranthes x ‘Prairie Sunset’), daffodil (Narcissus spp.), grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum), pink rain lily (Zephyranthes grandiflora), saffron crocus (Crocus sativus), white freesia (Freesia alba)


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