Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Pretty Bulbs

Gladiolus need a bit of work here in Tucson. Read below for detailed info on the pretty bulbs in stores now.

 Obviously there is a plethora of bulbs out there to choose from on the shelves.....and writing a post on each and every one of them would be crazy.  In this series, the bulbs/tubers I have showcased are the ones that with a bit of attention, will grow in your gardens outside.  The bulbs presented today are the pretty ones that grow outside in the wetter and cooler climates(not Tucson:). They are not practical at all in your own desert landscape, but that doesn't mean you can't grow them inside your homes or on your outside patio areas in pots and planters.  I have found that the flowers don't last long and if planted in the ground for over the year, get the chill needed to rebloom again.....unless you put them in a brown bag in the fridge. You're lucky if the bulb even survives the ground during our harsh summers.  Bulbs in the desert require work and protection from the elements that include direct sun, dry conditions, wind and hungry wildlife. However, people enjoy these plants as a centerpiece on the table in the home or outside on the patio table.  Let me share with you what I've discovered about these fragrant and beautiful plants in my own gardening experimentations. This will be the final entry for the bulb series here in Tucson.

Here's a list on some of the major bulbs you will see in your local garden centers right now.  Some are great performers while others will disappoint.  Most flower a short time,which to me, doesn't justify the expense, but we all have different opinions and each of us garden for different reasons. This post is about whether or not these plants will do what the picture demonstrates after making our purchase:)

  1. Amaryllis-strongest performing bulb in the desert garden.  While the flower lasts longer than most bulbs, the tropical leaves make a nice addition in planters or pots outside.  Many Tucson gardeners use this plant and it is one of THE most purchased bulbs here.  Personally, I have several bulbs that I leave in the shade outside  to grow.  I just pulled them from my planters to recharge for next year.  The first posting on the bulb series shows the amaryllis that was in my planter.  I do recommend playing around with this bulb as you'll get great results.
  2.  Calla Lily-pretty plant and it does well in pots and planters near water features.  Keep out of bright and direct sun here. They make a great addition in a very shady humid spot in the garden.  It will perform well here in the right situation.
  3. Crocus-fun with short bursts of purple in the garden that last several weeks. Find a shadier spot with some light and you'll get some enjoyment for a short time.
  4. Freesia-fragrant happiness that needs some indirect sun.  If it doesn't get enough, you won't get any flowers but a green stem.  Protect from the wind.  I've grown several varieties that have lasted for about a month and it was great while while they bloomed.
  5. Gladiolus-Stay away from them.  They will leaf out but by the time they start to flower, our spring winds will come and blow them over.  I've seen this plant in and around the El Presidio garden.  However it was in a protected spot where the wind couldn't blow it over, but it was also in a spot that didn't receive a lot of sun so there were no flowers.  This one is too much effort to grow and is recommended for experienced gardeners.
  6. Hyacinth-My personal favorite.  This plant grows in pots and planters, but seems stunted here and doesn't grow to its' full potential.  The flowers last a short time.
  7. Narcissus-Short lasting flower bloom at about a month.  Fun for a time, but die quickly afterward.
  8. Tiger Lily-Another popular plant in Tucson next to the amaryllis.  This one, if planted in the right spot, will do well outdoors for a longer period of time.  The orange variety does better. 
  9.  Tulip-Not a great plant to grow here.  Short lasting and a waste of money. Not worth the time.
  10. Iris-fun water garden plants that if placed in the right spot will do well.  At the Tucson Botanical Gardens, you will find a section dedicated to the Iris Society of Southern Arizona.  With a lot of water and indirect sunlight, these plants can thrive outside most of the year.  But again, not a good xeric plant and for me, it's too much effort to maintain. 
These are some of the top bulbs you'll see at your local gardening center now.  If you must have bulbs in your garden, stick with colocasia, canna, and caladiums.  And if you want a lower maintenance plant, stick with the canna which is the easiest plant to grow here, but make sure you give it sun.  Hope you enjoyed this series on bulbs.  I'm going to take a break for awhile from the plant series and write about some fun topics that I've been collecting over the past several weeks.  Several include some photo shoots around the Tucson area and will include one of my reflective videos.  The videos take time to put together, but I enjoy going on location and filming them.  Stay tuned for some reflective pieces on Sabino Canyon.  Until next time........

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this good summary! Your experience is meaningful for me to know. In some ways these bulbs reacts the same way here in the tropical land ;-) Oh we have another factor that will affect our plants a lot... rain!


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