bulbs that last

philipw2(7 MD/DC)March 8, 2009

As I looked at the 2 dozen blooming early crocus in my garden, I wondered what happened to the hundreds of others that I have planted over the 2 decades that I have partnered with this particular bit of earth. The squirrels, blight. House renovations took away a great glad patch that preceeded me.

But now I am tired of planting and replanting every few years. Sadly my wife loves tulips so I continue to plant, knowing full well that 1-2 years is the show. After a few years, the majority of the dafs I plant come up blind. Hyacinths peter out. Crocus disappear.

So what are the bulbs that last for 5 years or more?

In my shady yard filled with clay soil:


Ipheion--makes great bunches

Wood hyacinth---spreads

glads---if situated in the sunny patches.

I am sure I am missing others.

Any suggestions?

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steve22802(7a VA)

You don't mention daffodils, they're very tough. They do need divided periodically as they multiply.

The large white calla lilies (Zantedeschia aethiopica or Z. albo maculata or Z. 'Green Godess') will overwinter in your climate if you plant them 8 inches deep. They never need divided though the clump does get bigger and bigger. I'm not sure how well they would bloom in your shade, is it full shade?

Lilies return and multiply well for me but they do like sun to bloom well.

Lycoris squamigera is a very tough bulb.

Alliums are tough. I especially like Stars of Persia.

Most bulbs tend to prefer well draining soil so you might want to consider ammending your clay with organic material (compost, leaf mulch, etc.) to make it drain better.

- Steve

Here is a link that might be useful: squirrels are eating bulbs

    Bookmark   March 8, 2009 at 8:34PM
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He mentioned 'the majority of dafs come up blind', which I think he means gets foliage only, no blooms. Sounds like the foliage after bloom is being cut before it ages to brown, which I know takes what seems like forever, but is essential for continuation of the bulb.

Hyacinths continue for me with deadheading the entire bloom stalk. They do not continue in the dense bushy cluster, but more sparse. But they're better sparse, they don't fall over.

Scilla siberica should do fine with nothing eating them. Same for Pushkinia

I just have a few squirrels, never have a problem with them bothering the crocus corms, but the rabbits do eat the foliage. Spraying helps with that. Plant corms inside hardware cloth, fashioned into a shoebox type shape.

Definitely plant some winter aconites (Eranthis hymelis), nothing bothers them.

And the asiatic and oriental lillies last a long time. The deer do eat the flowers though...probably best to plant close to the house.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2009 at 8:57PM
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philipw2(7 MD/DC)

Thanks for the thoughts and suggestions.

Paula in pa is right. By blind I mean that foliage comes up but no flowers. I do wait for the foliage to ripen and many of these blind daffs are in raised beds with amended soil. I have concluded that my yard is too shady for dafs.

I have tried lilies on many occasions, annually in fact. The garden writer Eleanor Perenyi refers to lilies as annual. While I do not believe her, I have failed to establish the kind of stand of lilies that look so nice in other peoples' sunny beds.

I planted some squill last winter---I had some years ago. I wonder where it went. No sign yet. I will look at winter aconite for next season.

Any other thoughts?

    Bookmark   March 10, 2009 at 9:05PM
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philip how about removing some of the trees that are shading your garden? Or you might consider planting some of the wonderful plants that LIKE the shade. I live on the north side of the mountain in the midst of a forest, except what my chainsaw keeps clear enough to allow some sunny areas to garden. Al

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 9:23AM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

Daffodil should be fine and most varieties should last indefinitely.

From here
Will squirrels and other rodents eat daffodil bulbs?

No. The bulbs and leaves contain poisonous crystals which only certain insects can eat with impunity. They may, however, dig up the bulbs.

They can be planted in the shade of deciduous trees as they emerge and bloom before most trees have leafed out. A lot of my daffs are planted in the front yard woods and bloom just fine.

There are numerous reason why daffs won't bloom. I think the second biggest reason (after not leaving the foliage in tact from the previous season) is overcrowding of the bulbs.

Taken from the link below:

  1. Bulbs may have been growing in the same spot for many years and need dividing. (Daffodil bulbs normally divide every year or two. This can result in clumps of bulbs that are competing for food and space. Commonly bulbs in compacted clumps cease blooming. Dig the bulbs when the foliage has yellowed. Separate them into individual bulbs and replant them about 6" apart and about 6" deep. You may replant immediately after lifting, or you may dry the bulbs in the shade, store them in mesh bags, and replant the bulbs in the Fall. If you replant immediately - do not water them until the Fall.)

I don't plant mine 6" apart, but do allow about 2" of space between them and only plant 3 to maybe 5 bulbs per hole. Once I notice there are 12-15 blooms per planting hole, I then divide them. If not divided, the number of blooms the following seasons will likely decline.



Here is a link that might be useful: ADS-Daffodils Not Blooming?

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 10:54AM
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Scilla siberica can be naturalized in the lawn, in sun or shade. Even conifer shade. Just don't cut the lawn until the foliage withers

Here is a link that might be useful: Spring beauty

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 8:09PM
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