Category Archives: bulbs

Lily of the Nile

lilyofthenileI love this plant! Lily of the Nile, or Agapanthus, is a perennial in some zones, but an annual in my zone.  While it is an annual, I cannot resist it!

This plant can be grown from bulbs or seeds, and I think the fragrant flowers are worth planting the bulbs and digging them up for the winter. Alternatively, you could plant your them in pots and bring the pots in during the winter.

About mid-summer to the fall, Lily of the Valley puts on an extravagant show of large blooms!

This plant likes the sun, so be sure to pick a sunny spot for your African Lily!

They do require a bit of work–they need to be fed monthly. But the gorgeous blooms and the scent will pay you back for your hard work!

Lily of the Valley is also attractive to bees and butterflies, who enjoy the nectar.

Happy Gardening!




Dahlias: Dignity and Instability

blackdahliaIn the language of flowers, dahlias are associated with dignity for their beautiful blooms and instability for their inability to thrive outside of their comfort zones as a year-long perennial.

Nevertheless, dahlias can be grown outside of zones 8, 9, 10 with a little work on your part by removing the bulbs in the fall and replanting them in the spring. They are worth the effort!

They come in a variety of colors and flower shapes. We have the black dahlia, and it is one of my favorite flowers in the garden! Dahlias also have medicinal qualities; in the past, the plant was used to treat rashes and diabetes. People also eat them although I never have.

How to Grow

  • In the spring after the soil reaches at least 60 degrees, pick a sunny spot in your garden. Dahlias love the morning sun, but they do need six to eight hours of sun each day. They also like a bit of a protected spot, which makes them excellent container plants as well.
  • Dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball.
  • Mix in bone meal.
  • Place the tubers in the ground with the pointy end up, and the crowns just above the soil level.
  • Cover with soil and avoid watering until the plant begins to sprout.
  • Larger varieties of dahlias will need support, so if you have chosen a larger variety, add in stakes and tie the stems to the stakes.


  • Before the first frost, cut back the plant to about six inches and lift from the dirt.
  • Shake off the soil and hang the plant upside down to dry.
  • Store the plant and tubers in warm, dry place.
  • In the spring, separate the tubers from the plant, and replant!

If you’d rather not go to the trouble of storing them over the winter, you may always purchase new dahlias each year.  Either way you do it, the dahlia is a dazzling addition to any garden.

Happy Gardening!

Lily: The True Queen of the Garden

lilyThe fragrant lily, lilium,  is the true queen in any garden. A perennial herb bulb, the lily is famous for its beautiful blooms in orange, red, white, pink, and the list could go on…..

Daylilies, water lilies, lilies of the valley are not real lilies, just name stealers! All of these are pretty but don’t be fooled by their appropriation of the queen’s name.

In the language of flowers, lilies have various meanings. In general, lilies represent purity, beauty, and sweetness.

Surprisingly, the bulb of the lily was once used with other materials to ward off witches. But the white lily is known for some healing ability. The roots and bulbs are used to make medicines for pain and swelling.

How to Grow
Plant lily bulbs in the fall.

  • Pick a sunny to partially sunny spot in your garden.
  • Dig a hole to about 15 inches–lily bulbs need to be planted deeply.
  • Place the bulb in the hole.
  • Add a fertilizer, such as bone meal.
  • Cover with soil and water.

Benefits of lilies

  • Easy to grow
  • Spread on their own
  • A stand out in any garden
  • make wonderful cut flowers

If you are allergic to lily pollen, simply pull or cut out the stamens as soon as the flower begins to open–and enjoy your lilies indoors.

Warning! Be on the look out–deer will eat lily blooms. I had a very sad and discouraging spring one year when deer ate all of my red lilies. I was planning on those red lilies for my son’s graduation party. Nothing daunted, I went to Michaels and purchased fake lilies. But you can purchase forced lily bulbs at most nurseries. I tend to buy a few each year of a new variety that catches my eye.

Happy Gardening!

The Iris: Calling a Goddess

blackirisThe iris is a hardy perennial bulb that will survive even up to zone 9! It is an old, old plant with roots back to ancient Greece. Legend has it that Iris, the Goddess of the Rainbow, would carry messages between earth and heaven. Purple irises were planted on graves to summon the Goddess to guide the dead.  Even now, the iris represents communication and messages.

In the language of flowers, the iris has several different meanings:

  • Purple iris: wisdom and compliments
  • Blue iris: faith and hope
  • Yellow iris: passion
  • White iris: purity

Irises come in many colors, but the distinctive shape of the fleur-de-lis remains constant. My favorite irises are the black irises we have planted in our garden although I have several varieties and colors throughout our yard. I like the black iris for its drama, and it coordinates nicely with our black front door and black shutters.

How to grow iris:

  • Pick a sunny spot or partially sunny spot in the garden. Irises need the sun to bloom.
  • Plant iris in mid to late summer
  • Dig a hole 4 inches deep, making ridges down the sides of the hole.
  • Mix in fertilizer.
  • Place the rhizome on the top ridge and let the roots go down on all sides.
  • Cover and water.
  • Make sure and keep the rhizomes exposed! They need sun and air.
  • When the clumps become congested or are not performing as well, divide the rhizomes and replant. You’ll want to do this right after the Iris finishes blooming.

There are many benefits to adding the iris to your garden:

  • excellent cut flowers
  • deer resistant
  • drought tolerant
  • attracts butterflies and hummingbirds

The iris will bloom in the early summer for you, year after year! And you never know, the Goddess Iris just might make an appearance! irisgoddess

Happy gardening!

Daffodils: A Perennial Favorite

Image“And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.” ~William Wordsworth

Sunny, cheerful daffodils are hardy bulbs that add a wonderful dash of color to the spring garden!

In the language of flowers, daffodils have several meanings:

  • unrequited love
  • regard
  • you’re the only one
  • chivalry

Because daffodils are closely associated with Easter, they also represent re-birth. Daffodils hold different meanings in different parts of the world. For instance, in China, they mean good fortune; in France, they mean hope.

How to Plant them

You’ll want to plant daffodil bulbs in the fall about 2-4 weeks before the first frost.

  • Pick a spot in your garden that receives full sun or part shade.
  • For zone 5, you will need at least 3 inches of soil above the bulb, but a good rule of thumb is to plant the bulb as deep as its own depth.
  • Mix a fertilizer (I use bone meal) into the soil.
  • Place the bulb in and cover with dirt. Water.
  • Daffodils like to be spaced apart about 3 to 6 inches, and often gardeners will grow these in large groupings.

The Benefits of Daffodils

  • Deer and other critters don’t much care for daffodils since they are part of the narcissus family.
  • They make excellent cut flowers
  • They are a perennial–so they will come back year after year

P. Allen Smith’s Daffodils 101 offers excellent advice about daffodils if you are looking for more information. Daffodils are s beautiful edition to any garden, and the bulbs spread over time!

If you would really like to have daffodils this spring but didn’t plant the bulbs, you may force your own bulbs inside or purchase forced bulbs at grocery stores and nurseries. I do purchase a few forced daffodils every year for window boxes and then move the bulbs to the garden.

Happy Planting!

Hyacinth: A Fragrance to Treasure

hyacinths2Of all the spring bulbs, hyacinths are my favorite. I love their shape and wonderful scent!

The hyacinth has been around for quite a while. In fact, you may still purchase varieties from the 1800s. Legend has it that the Greek gods Apollo and Zephyr adored and fought over a young Greek boy. In a jealous rage, Zephyr accidentally killed the boy, and Apollo named the flower that arose from the boy’s blood the hyacinth.

What does it mean?
In the language of flowers, hyacinths have several meanings, but being associated with Apollo, they generally represent games and sports.

  • blue hyacinth: constancy, sincerity
  • red or pink hyacinth: playful nature
  • purple hyacinth: apology or sorrow
  • white hyacinth: beauty and loveliness

Whichever color you choose, the hyacinth is a lovely compliment to any garden.

How to plant hyacinth bulbs

Pick a spot in full sun or partial shade and plant 4 to  6 weeks before the first fall frost.

  • Dig a hole 4 inches deep, or if you are in the north, 6-8 inches deep. Keep the holes spaced about 3 inches apart.
  • Add a little bone meal and mix it with the dirt.
  • Set the bulb in the hole with the pointy end up.
  • Cover with dirt.
  • If the fall is dry, water.

After the hyacinth blooms in the spring, you may cut back the flower stalk but let the leaves wither naturally before removing them.

If you forgot to plant hyacinth bulbs but would really like some, you may purchase forced hyacinth bulbs almost anywhere in the spring. Grocery stores, florists, and nurseries will have forced bulbs for sale. Every year, I buy several more of these. I love the smell in the house, and when they are done blooming, I plant the bulbs in my garden.  Of course, if you have the bulbs, you may force the hyacinth to bloom in the house.

Although rare, hyacinth poisoning can happen if ingested. Keep the bulbs away from young children and animals to be safe.

Hyacinths will return year after year and keep providing an incredible fragrance.

Happy planting!