opinions on some tulip and Narcissus-cultivars?

linaria_gwSeptember 21, 2010

So it is almost autumn again and planting time soon. I want to order some stuff for my perennial border in partial shade.

Soil isr rich, loamy, lots of organic matter

moisture quite a lot, I had hardly to water in the summer

as for the shade: the elm tree providing some of it is dying, the rest is wandering shade by our building.

In 2008 I planted abot 50 single early tulips (couldn`t resist the colour), which were lovely in 2009 and almost gone this spring.

Problem: I am not sure whether they disliked the moist soil over the summer or whether I damaged lots of them when shuffeling plants and editing the whole border.

learning from mistakes...

so I want stuff that can naturalize. The catalogue from my supplier has some lists with recomondations (for sun, shade, to naturalize). I tried to check them with the British bulbs`book by Phillips and Rix: surprise, contradiction.

So finally my questions:

Narcissus cyclamineus-hybr group: by Rix listed as suitable for part shade in general, in the catalogue just 3 cultivars mentioned (February Gold, Jetfire, Peeping Tom), the rest for full sun. Do yours last in part shade, any particular cultivar, how does Jack Snipe?

Tulipa viridiflora`Spring Green`: recommended for shade in the catalogue. So I know, most (all?) Tulips love sun. Did yours grow well in the second year? (they always manage a flower in the 1...) And I am not sure whether this means that Spring Green will/could keep flowering in year 2, 3+

last question: Fosteriana Tulips

are they happy in a soil which isn`t really dry over the summer? Sweetheart would go with the rest of my stuff. I could pop it into a dry, sunny stretch at the foot of the back wall (about 2 feet wide), just not sure whether to spread them throughout the whole border (in shadier parts)

Thanks for any hints, I would love the new stuff to thrive permanentely, bye, Lin

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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

First, in general, tulips are not truly perennial in the southeast USA. We simply do not have enough winter cold for them to bloom year after year. You live in Switzerland, so I have no idea other than your zone number. In my area (zone 7b), they are typically good for one year only, and that, only if I refrigerate them for 8 to 10 weeks before planting out. Further north, like in northern Tennessee (zone 6), they may last for two or three years before they decline. They will continue to put up foliage for years, but only about l0% will bloom, with the percentage decreasing each year along with the size of the blooms.

There are a few wildling tulips that will return here: clusiana, Cynthia, Tubergen's Gem, Lady Jane, saxatilis, and sylvestris being some. They are all, however, very short, and though nice, are simply no substitute for the tall holland bulbs we all know.

As to the daffodils. It doesn't matter so much how shady your area is in the summertime. What matters is the amount of shade it gets in late winter to early spring. If your shade is from deciduous trees, you should be in good shape. If it's from buildings, your bulbs will decline over a few years time. They need full sun while their foliage is up so that the bulbs can ripen for the next year. (I assume you know to never cut the foliage back till it dies naturally.)

I have grown all three daffodils you mention. None persisted for more than a few years here in my warm climate. The best cyclamineus I have grown is Tete-a-Tete. It continues to bloom and multiply yearly under a deciduous tree.

One clue for you is that most daffodils like a good long summer baking. If your soil is quite moist all summer long, an awful lot of them will rot. I have had the best results with daffodils in the jonquila class.

If you're interested and it seems fitting to your climate, the book "Garden Bulbs for the South" by Scott Ogden is excellent. It's my go-to for all new purchases.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 9:15PM
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iris_gal(z9 CA)

For best luck in naturalizing tall tulips try the older Darwins. Not sure if the viridiflora will naturalize in Switzerland. I read a professional's observation that none of the Fosteriana tulips were naturalizers.

All spring blooming bulbs need dry soil during dormancy (summer).

I'm in zone 9 (west coast US) without the humidity of the south and all daffodils do well & need sun. The poeticus is the exception & will get by with filtered sun.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 11:14PM
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Thanks for your replies.
Actually, I am not sure whether I got my zone right, plucked the number off some map for European frost zones, not sure whether they have the same scale as one for Northern Amerika.

We do get some frost, nothing drastic, often it starts freezing as late as January, before just low temperatures and 0C/ 32 F. The frost minimum at night moves around -5 to -10 C/ 23 to 14 F, seldom dipping lower than -15 C/ 5 F, in the country side it is somewhat colder of course.

and about T fosterianas: at a lecture/ speech in Berlin (much colder than here) a great landscape architect recommended T fost White Emporer as one of the few that last or even multiply.

Tricky stuff... I will check this zone thing properly and probably order more wild stuff like Chionodoxa or Scilla for the shadier parts.

Thanks, bye, Lin

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 4:55AM
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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

Tulip 'Spring Green' has been in my garden for about five years now and flowers reliably. My soil is a clay loam which will crack open over a dry summer.

What I don't have is the continental extremes of temperature - 30C+ for days on end. (The plus of being in the Roaring Forties.)

For me, Jetfire and Tete a Tete multiply very well and return reliably - and multiply rapidly. Depending on where they are they get a minimum of four hours of good light (depending on cloud cover) over winter-spring.

Tulips aren't like Narcissus. They need to grow on after flowering to increase the size of the bulb again, so it can look as if you've 'lost' them. I agree that some varieties do just wither to nothing. Conversely, I put in some Darwin hybrids last century (doesn't that sound 'old'?!) and they had a hard time of it due to garden upheaval. They are just coming into bud this year for the first or second time.

I'm not much into formal bedding displays so I don't mind having 'surprises' around the garden - including seedlings coming to flower in odd places at odd times. More serendipity than artistry...

Permanent inground tulips include Spring Green, Menton, Abba, T maximowitz (like that but I'm sure I've spelled it wrongly!).

For soil amendment - so far autumn mulching with homemade compost seems to be beneficial for encouraging healthy plants - except they grow tall enough to be swiped by the wind. :-((( it's worth it, though, for the increase of bulb stocks and healthy blooms that mostly resist hungry predators.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 6:02AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

"One clue for you is that most daffodils like a good long summer baking. If your soil is quite moist all summer long, an awful lot of them will rot". This might be the technically correct version but daffodils of many kinds naturalise successfully in the UK where a long summer baking is extremely unlikely. Many grow happily in lawns, orchards and meadows which remain quite moist throughout the year. I'm sure they would do the same in Switzerland. Good ones for naturalising are the cyclamineus, triandrus and poeticus types. I have grown Jack Snipe, Minnow and Feb gold. All returned but they do need light. Thalia was not happy in partial shade and only lasted a few years. The best returning tulips for me have been T praestans. A gorgeous bulb for naturalising in damp grass in good light is Fritillaria meleagris. A Swiss native I should imagine (it is here).

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 10:07AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

I don't really have any full sun. I don't have any summer baking either. I have sucess with almost all daffodils and narcissus I've planted. February Gold is one of my favorites. I've got Jetfire and Jack Snipe too. All have persisted for years.

I have species tulips along my south facing curb where they get reflected heat from the street. All of them that I have tried have persisted. Some are over a decade old. I've had plain yellow Darwins persist in a not at all dry flowerbed too.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 5:32PM
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cnid(z5b Ont Canada)

Fosteriana bulbs are reliably perennial for me, and they usually multiply (modestly) as well. As tall as the hybrid tulips, altho quite early.

For reliably perennial options: No one has mentioned Kaufmanniana - they are not as tall as hybrids but they are bright and gorgeous, and they clump up quickly. Quite early only.

Greigii tulips are reliable and clump up somewhat. They can be quite tall altho generally are a bit shorter than hybrids. Lots of choice, not just early bloomers.

I find the earlier tulips care less about shade from deciduous trees because they tend to be done before the leaves are fully out.


    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 11:59AM
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cnid(z5b Ont Canada)

Was thinking about this while I was planting bulbs yesterday. The species tulips (sometimes called botanical tulips) are small but wonderful. Perennial for me. I think people want bigger flowers and taller stems. The Kaufs, Fos, and Greigii all have big flowers - I am always trying to talk people in to trying them!

The other thing I do is plant deeply. I have read repeatedly that this can help with making bulbs last longer. I plant a minimum of 8 inches deep, sometimes 10-12 inches. I also add some sand and gravel mix if the bed is really rich soil, in the hopes of aiding drainage around the bulb.

The other thing I was thinking is that your climate just might not be cold enough for what the bulbs need in order for them to perform. Still worth trying different things though. I used to hesitate to try growing some things but now put in something new and different each year. Sometimes it ends up being an annual for me!


    Bookmark   September 26, 2010 at 9:46AM
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