Category Archives: bulbs

How to Prevent Flopping with Paperwhite Bulbs

The first time I forced bulbs to bloom indoors was when I attended a horticulture class at Northern Virginia Community College in the 1970s. We were given paperwhite bulbs (Narcissus tazetta) that we placed in a shallow dish of water and pebbles. Continue reading

Amaryllis: Easy, Holiday Cheer

amaryllis

Red Pearl amaryllis, photo courtesy of Longfield Gardens.

Growing an amaryllis is easy, just plant and water. Unlike the spring blooming bulbs, an amaryllis bulb does not need a chilling period. It is a tropical plant, hardy to Zones 9-12. Once planted, these large bulbs can bloom in time for the holidays, depending on the bulb. They are pricey, but you can coax the bulb to rebloom the following year.

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Camassia Bulbs Offer Spring Beauty with American Heritage

This fall I planted camassia bulbs in honor of the Meriwether Lewis and William Clark historic expedition that started in 1804. I always think of them when I see a field of the blue flowers so I thought I would try growing them this year. Mine is a cultivar called ‘Blue Melody’ but of course they were dealing with the wild species Camassia quamash. Continue reading

Fall Is the Time to Plant Garlic

garlic in bowl

Chesknok Red, a purple-striped hardneck garlic

As fall approaches, thoughts turn to garlic. Growing your own garlic is easy and the cloves are tastier than what you purchase in a grocery store. Typically, garlic is planted in October in the Washington DC metro area but I have planted as late as Thanksgiving Day.  You may find “seed” stock (the garlic you buy to plant, not the garlic you buy in a grocery store to eat) at independent garden centers, farmers markets, online seed companies or specialty garlic companies. If garlic at your favorite seed company is sold out, try a company that specializes in garlic because they have more inventory. Continue reading

Got Deer? Here Are a Few Deer-Proof Bulbs for Spring Flowers

snowdrop blossoms in the woodsNow is the time to start thinking about purchasing spring-blooming bulbs in the Washington DC metro area. There is a wide variety of choices but if you have a severe deer problem, you may want to plant deer-proof bulbs. I know, you say, there is no such thing as “deer-proof.” However, with bulbs there are a few that are actually poisonous. The amaryllis family offers three popular critter-proof bulbs that contain lycorine, a poisonous crystalline alkaloid. Somehow, animals know about lycorine and stay away from these bulbs plus the bulbs perform well in this area and last for many years in the garden. Continue reading

Don’t Forget to Order Bulbs for Summer Blooms!

Many gardeners focus on obtaining seed now to start their garden in the spring. But given the increased interest in gardening it may be best for gardeners to also focus on ordering summer-blooming bulbs as soon as possible. It will be too cold to plant them now in the DC metro area and some nurseries do not even ship them until later when it is warmer. But given the high demand for seeds, gardeners may want to select and order their summer blooming bulbs now to make sure they have them when it is time to plant in May. Continue reading

Spring-Blooming Crocus

crocus

crocus at Brookside Gardens

February brings the spring crocus. These ephemeral beauties are actually perennials. After blooming in February and March, they go dormant in the summer and reappear next spring. Crocus are grown from corms, which are relatively small and cheap compared to other spring blooming bulbs. Continue reading

Amaryllis: A Holiday Tradition

flower

Charisma is an early blooming amaryllis, just in time for Christmas. Photo courtesy of Longfield Gardens.

Growing an amaryllis is easy, just plant and water. Unlike the spring blooming bulbs, an amaryllis does not need a chilling period. It is a tropical plant, hardy to Zones 9-12. Once planted, these large bulbs can bloom in time for the holidays, depending on the bulb. Although they may seem like an investment, you can coax the bulb to re-bloom the following year. Continue reading

Forcing Paperwhites with Alcohol Prevents Flopping

The first time I forced bulbs to bloom indoors was when I was taking a horticulture class at Northern Virginia Community College in the 1970s. We were given paperwhite bulbs (Narcissus tazetta) that we placed in a shallow dish of water and pebbles. Continue reading

Now Is the Time to Get Your Garlic!

garlic in bowl

Chesknok Red, a purple-striped hardneck garlic

As fall approaches, thoughts turn to garlic. Growing your own garlic is easy and the cloves are tastier than what you purchase in a grocery store. Typically, garlic is planted in October in the Washington DC metro area but I have planted as late as Thanksgiving Day.  You may find “seed” stock (the garlic you buy to plant, not the garlic you buy in a grocery store to eat) at independent garden centers, farmers markets, online seed companies or specialty garlic companies. If garlic at your favorite seed company is sold out, try a company that specializes in garlic because they have more inventory. Continue reading