Dramatic foliage plant for the water garden, bog planting, patio container or moist woodland garden. Plants will reach greatest size when grown in larger pots or in the earth. In fall, bring indoors as a houseplant, or dig bulb and store in a cool basement.
Tips and Uses
2-3 times per week until established
Partial sun or shade.
Mulch to reduce weeds
Attractive leaves, ideal in planters
› General Plant Info
- Bulbs are durable and reliable additions to the garden. Packaged, dormant bulbs have been field grown with care and are mature, blooming-sized plants just waiting to be planted so they can emerge and bloom in your garden.
- Fall-planted bulbs are generally hardy and will grow and flower next spring.
- Spring and summer bulbs include both annuals and perennials. Both will provide flowers this season. Annuals such as Dahlia, Begonia and Gladiolus are one-season plants that will not survive the winter outdoors. Perennials such as Lilies and Allium will return for many years and become a permanent addition to the garden.
- Potted flowering bulbs can be treated like perennials; plant in the ground to enjoy this season's display, and look forward to many future seasons of color.
- In containers:
- Use a single plant to create a bold statement
- Annual types are great for combos of mixed plants with complementary or contrasting colors and textures
- Create a classic layered planter with a tall, upright "thriller," 3-5 shorter, mounded "fillers" and trailing or cascading "spillers"
- Fall-planted, spring-blooming bulbs can be planted in sweeping masses to create a blanket of seasonal color. Foliage dies back after blooming, leaving the perfect spot to plant summer-flowering annuals
- Hardy summer bulbs can be tucked in among perennials and shrubs to bring a burst of color
- Use bulbs as a part of larger landscape plantings to complement an overall design
- Add to any garden or landscape planting designed to a specific theme or style, or create something all your own
- Design and site considerations:
- Bloom time - In a small garden, you may want all of your plants to bloom at the same time. More commonly, gardeners want to grow an assortment of both hardy and tender plants that will ensure flowers throughout the growing season.
- Color - Choose plants that will carry your color theme through the season, or shift over its course. Don’t forget to consider foliage color too, as this can be a more constant part of the garden than flowers on some plants.
- Height - To make sure all of your plants get good lighting and none get lost among the other plants, start with tallest varieties at the center or back of a planting, and place gradually shorter plants as you move toward garden’s edge. It’s fine to put the occasional tall, open plant closer to the edge as a see-through plant to keep things interesting.
- Remember that height and bloom time will work together and change over the season.
- Spacing - Recommendations are based on the normal width of a mature plant. You may space plants farther apart or closer together, depending on how quickly you want the planting to fill in, keeping in mind that you will need to thin or divide plants if they get too close and crowd each other out.
- Light preference - Always match your plants to the light conditions where they will be growing. Most plants are put into one of three basic categories:
- Full sun - 6 or more hours of direct sun
- Part sun - 4-6 hours of direct sun; also includes bright areas with dappled light
- Shade - Less than 4 hours of direct sun
- Watering needs - All of the plants should have similar watering needs so they will be happy together.
- Special features - Look for qualities that suit your gardening objectives or theme, such as low maintenance, fragrance, attractive to butterflies, resistance to deer damage, etc.
- You’ll enjoy your plants more if you visit them regularly, and they’ll always look fresh if you take the opportunity to remove any faded blooms or trim stray growth. You’ll also notice any problems early on and be able to take preventive action.
› Water Tips
- Dormant bulbs will need to be watered well after planting to settle the soil, but should be fine on their own until plants are up and growing.
- Potted bulbs that are newly transplanted will take a few weeks to establish as their roots grow out into their new soil. Initially, you’ll need to frequently check the soil at the plant’s base and water if it feels dry to the touch. Observe plants closely for the first few weeks to check for signs of flagging, and make sure to water before plants wilt.
- As plants become established, they will need less water, depending on rainfall. A rain gauge is a helpful tool to understand how much water plants receive, and determine any additional irrigation needed.
- Conditions that increase water needs:
- Dry, windy weather
- Periods of drought
- Sandy, light soils that do not hold moisture well
- Containers or plants in hot, sunny spaces
- For new transplants, make sure the water soaks the original root ball as well as the surrounding soil.
- Dormant bulbs should not require supplemental watering.
- For actively growing plants, slow, deep watering is most effective; frequent, shallow watering encourages shallow root systems that are less drought tolerant.
- Apply water at the base of the plants to minimize evaporation and keep foliage dry, which also helps prevent disease.
- When overhead sprinklers are used, water early in the day; morning is best. Foliage will dry quickly as the day warms.
- If plants are wilted, water right away.
- Check daily and water thoroughly when soil feels dry an inch below the surface.
- If plants appear to be wilting, check soil to make sure it is dry—extreme overwatering can also cause wilting.
› Planting Tips
- Most soils benefit from the addition of organic matter such as compost, peat or composted manure. This helps poor, sandy soils to better retain moisture, and breaks up heavy clay soil to help air, water and plant roots move more freely.
- For new planting beds, prepare the soil by tilling and work in organic matter following product recommendations.
- For dormant bulbs, follow planting depth instructions on the package. As a general rule, hardy bulbs should be planted 3-4 times as deep as the diameter of the bulb. Annual types may be planted more shallowly.
- To add new potted plants to an established bed, dig a hole twice as wide and about the same depth as the root ball of your new plant. Mix organic matter with the native soil.
- Plant at the same depth as it was in its container. For larger plants, make a low ring of soil around the plants, just wider than the root ball. This will help funnel the water to the plant’s roots during the establishment period.
- Water carefully and generously with a gentle flow.
- Choose a container with ample drainage holes. There is no need to add pot shards or stones to the bottom of the pot.
- Large planter boxes and containers are best if you want the bulbs to stay in the container for more than one season. Plants have more room to grow and are less likely to dry out or be damaged by freezing in larger containers.
- Use a lightweight professional potting mix for small containers, or a high-quality organic garden soil for larger, open-bottomed planters.
- Plant dormant or potted bulbs as outlined for in-ground planting.
- Note that plants grown in containers are more vulnerable to winter extremes. In cold winter climates it is recommended to transplant perennials into the ground in fall, unless they are hardy to two full zones colder than your region.
- Help build and retain good soil fertility by replenishing soil annually with a top dressing of compost, and maintaining a 2-3” layer of organic mulch.
- When planting dormant bulbs, use bone meal or a similar fertilizer formulated for bulbs. These products provide slow-release nutrients that will be ready for the bulb roots when they are ready to grow. This is the only type of fertilizer that should be applied to dormant plants.
- Sites with poor or lean, sandy soil may need some help with supplemental fertilizers.
- Time-release fertilizers can be used as a soil dressing, and are applied only a few times during the growing season, depending on the product. Each time the plant is watered, a small amount of fertilizer is released.
- Water-soluble fertilizers can be applied with a hose end sprayer or mixed in a watering can or bucket. This gives plants an immediate boost, but will need to be repeated throughout the season, while plants are actively growing.
- Choose a product formulated for flowering plants or bulbs and follow package instructions carefully.
- If you are uncertain about your soil fertility, your local extension service can usually recommend testing services.
- New transplants of potted bulbs will not require fertilization until after they have become established, unless you are using a specially formulated starter product.
- Bulbs grown in containers may need more fertilization, especially if grown in a soil-less potting mix. If you choose a soil with fertilizer mixed in, apply supplemental feeding only as recommended for that soil product.
- If your plants are dry and wilting, water immediately with clear water. Fertilizing at this time will cause leaf burn. Wait until plants have perked back up before feeding.
› Pruning Tips
- As a general rule, bulb plants should not be pruned except after flowering.
- Annual bulbs such as Begonias and Dahlias can be trimmed to remove the old flowers and keep plants tidy and in constant bloom.
- The leaves of spring-flowering bulbs should be left in place to feed the bulb for next year's display. When foliage turns yellow it may be removed.
- Other maintenance:
- Staking and support - Tall plants such as lily and dinnerplate dahlia may need staking in windy sites to prevent damage. Choose natural color materials that will not be noticeable and tie plants gently at a natural angle.
- Weed control - Keep garden plots and containers weed-free to prevent competition and reduce pest and disease problems.
- Take notice of any signs of disease or insect damage so that you can take prompt preventive action.