Category Archives: bulbs

You Too Can Force Hyacinths To Bloom Indoors

Hyacinth Blue Pearl, first flush of flowers

Hyacinth Blue Pearl

It is easy to force hyacinths to bloom early indoors. Hyacinths are relatively cheap bulbs that come in a variety of flower colors: pink, blue, purple, yellow and white. Typically people purchase them in the fall to plant in the garden so they can enjoy their spring bloom. But you can also purchase them in the fall and mimic winter’s cold period by placing in the refrigerator for a few months. They need the cold period in order to bloom. Continue reading

Pleasantly Scented Paperwhites

Ariel

I love growing paperwhites. Paperwhites are a type of daffodil that does not need a chilling period. You can easily find the small bulbs at the garden center now. Most likely you are purchasing a white flowering cultivar known as Ziva. These are relatively inexpensive and easy to grow indoors. Just put a few bulbs in a glass with water and pebbles and voila! You have beautiful flowers in about 6 weeks.

Winter Sun

What’s the problem? The scent. These are not the “breath of fresh air” one imagines in the winter. Instead, you may be thinking you have a gas leak or worse — rotting meat or old diapers. Like cilantro, the fragrance of paperwhites is a “love it” or “leave it” affair.

The culprit? Indole. The fragrance is caused by a chemical called indole, which also exists in trace amounts in gardenias, jasmine, and tuberose (all of which I do like). In these trace amounts, indole becomes more floral and less offensive. It is not surprising that small amounts of indole are used in perfume, such as Chanel No. 5.

Some paperwhites, like Ziva, have a higher level of indole than others. If you find this fragrance offensive, try growing cultivars with lower levels such as Inball (white flowers), Ariel (white), Nir (white), and Wintersun (white with dark yellow cup).  Yellow flowering paperwhites are supposed to be low in indole but the only one I have seen for sale is Grand Soleil d’Or from this list of bulb companies.

Grand Soleil d’Or

Try growing Inball, Ariel, Nir, Wintersun, or Grand Soleil d’Or this year. They may not be available in your local garden center but they are available from specialty bulb companies.

All photos courtesy of Brent and Becky’s Bulbs.

Nurseries Specializing in Bulbs for Spring Flowers

bulbsFall is the time to plant bulbs for spring flowers. Here is a list of companies that sell bulbs — some specialize in the fall-planted, spring-blooming bulbs like daffodils, while others focus on the summer plants like dahlias and caladiums.  If you have recommendations of other companies, enter them in the comments section so I can add to this list.

Amaryllis and Caladium Bulb Company, Florida, has catalog and can order online. Sells amaryllis, caladiums, and spring and summer bulbs.

Brecks, Ohio, has a catalog and can order online, states that it ships bulbs directly from Holland

Bluestone Perennials, sells bulbs as well as perennials.

Brent and Becky’s Bulbs, Virginia, has a catalog, can order online, can visit display garden and shop in Gloucester, VA.

Colorblends, Connecticut. Although “wholesale” is in their title and on their website, they do sell bulbs to home gardeners. They have an annual print catalog and an online site for ordering. Specializes in spring blooming bulbs.

Dan’s Dahlias, Washington company that specializes in dahlias.

David Burdick Daffodils and More, Massachusetts, has catalog and website but not able to order online. Has daffodils, trollius, colchicums, and a few other bulbs

Dutch Gardens, Illinois, has catalog and can order online, sells bulbs and perennials

Dutch Grown, Pennsylvania, order bulbs online.

Easy to Grow Bulbs, California, can order online, no catalog. Sells bulbs, succulents, and houseplants.

John Scheepers Beauty from Bulbs, Connecticut, can order online and has catalog. Also has sister company Van Engelen for wholesale bulb orders and a sister company, Kitchen Garden Seeds, for vegetable, herb, flower seeds

Longfield Gardens, New Jersey, can order online but no catalog, sells bulbs and perennials

McClure and Zimmerman, Wisconsin, has a digital catalog and can order online, sells bulbs

Odyssey Bulbs, Massachusetts, online, no catalog, sells unusual bulbs and perennials

Old House Gardens, Michigan, can order online and has a print catalog, known for heirloom bulbs

Plant Addicts is a family owned, online plant store in Nebraska that sells bulbs as well as other types of plants and garden décor. Their website also offers gardening information and resources.

RoozenGaarde and Washington Bulb Company, Washington, has a mailorder and internet division called Tulips.com. There is a retail gift shop in WA. Also ships flowers and promotes bulbs as wedding favors.

Telos Rare Bulbs, California, sells bulbs from South Africa, South America, and western U.S., online, no catalog

White Flower Farm, Connecticut, can order online and obtain catalog, wide range of bulbs, perennials, holiday plants, and gardening tools. Has display gardens and store in CT.

Nurseries that Specialize in Bulbs, Rhizomes, Corms, Tubers, Etc.

bulbsA few weeks ago, I shared my list of companies that specialize in seed and asked you to send me companies I did not have so I could expand my list. I received many new companies (thank you!) so I now have 86 seed companies on my website. I thought I would do this for my list of companies that sell ornamental bulbs. These can be the spring blooming bulbs as well as summer plants that are sold by bulbs, tubers, corms, rhizomes, etc.  Those that are edible, i.e., seed potato and garlic, are on the seed list. So send me your suggestions in the comments section so we can expand this list from 19 to 30 at least!

Amaryllis and Caladium Bulb Company, Florida, has catalog and can order online. Sells amaryllis, caladiums, and spring and summer bulbs.

Brecks, Ohio, has a catalog and can order online, states that it ships bulbs directly from Holland

Bluestone Perennials, sells bulbs as well as perennials.

Brent and Becky’s Bulbs, Virginia, has a catalog, can order online, can visit display garden and shop in Gloucester, VA.

Colorblends, Connecticut. Although “wholesale” is in their title and on their website, they do sell bulbs to home gardeners. There is a $60 minimum order. They have an annual print catalog and an online site for ordering. Specializes in spring blooming bulbs.

Dan’s Dahlias, Washington state company that specializes in dahlias.

David Burdick Daffodils and More, Massachusetts, has catalog and website but not able to order online. Has daffodils, trollius, colchicums, and a few other bulbs

Dutch Gardens, Illinois, has catalog and can order online, sells bulbs and perennials

Dutch Grown, Pennsylvania, order bulbs online.

Easy to Grow Bulbs, California, can order online, no catalog. Sells bulbs, succulents, and houseplants.

John Scheepers Beauty from Bulbs, Connecticut, can order online and has catalog. Also has sister company Van Engelen for wholesale bulb orders and a sister company, Kitchen Garden Seeds, for vegetable, herb, flower seeds

Longfield Gardens, New Jersey, can order online but no catalog, sells bulbs and perennials

McClure and Zimmerman, Wisconsin, has a digital catalog and can order online, sells bulbs

Odyssey Bulbs, Massachusetts, online, no catalog, sells unusual bulbs and perennials

Old House Gardens, Michigan, can order online and has a print catalog, known for heirloom bulbs

Plant Addicts is a family owned, online plant store in Nebraska that sells bulbs as well as other types of plants and garden décor. Their website also offers gardening information and resources.

RoozenGaarde and Washington Bulb Company, Washington, has a mailorder and internet division called Tulips.com. There is a retail gift shop in WA. Also ships flowers and promotes bulbs as wedding favors.

Telos Rare Bulbs, California, sells bulbs from South Africa, South America, and western U.S., online, no catalog

White Flower Farm, Connecticut, can order online and obtain catalog, wide range of bulbs, perennials, holiday plants, and gardening tools. Has display gardens and store in CT.

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.

Continue reading

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