Tag Archives: bulbs

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!

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!

The True Harbinger of Spring: The Crocus

crocusCrocus is the true harbinger of spring because it is the first perennial bulb to emerge after a long and brutal winter. For people who live in the upper area of zone 5, the sight of the first crocus is met with overwhelming relief–surely spring is eminent!

For this reason alone, the crocus bulb is worth planting. But there are other reasons, of course! The crocus bulb will spread, and they require very little care. In addition, deer mostly ignore the crocus. You can plant them and forget about them until they lift your spirits in late February or early March.

How to Plant Crocus Bulbs

  • Pick an area that is not too shady–this flower does need some sun!
  • Plant in the fall 6-8 weeks before the first frost.
  • Dig a hole 3-4 inches deep.
  • Work in fertilizer, such as bone meal.
  • Place the bulb pointy end up in the hole.
  • Cover the hole with dirt and water.

Each spring, the crocus flowers will bloom and reward you with a much needed spring boost!


tulipsTulips are a spring perennial favorite. Numerous tulip festivals take place around the world in honor of this beautiful bulb.

Tulips come in many different colors and varieties. I believe there are around 75 wild species of tulips. I have several of the standard tulips in pink, yellow, red, yellow and red, and peach. My favorite tulips are our black tulips. They are striking and add a dramatic note to any garden.

How to plant tulips
Tulips like a sunny spot, or at least partial sun, in zone 5.

  • You’ll want to plant your tulip bulbs in the fall, at least 6-8 weeks before the first frost.
  • Plant them about 8 inches in the ground.
  • Set the bulbs in the holes with the pointy end up.
  • Cover them with soil and water them.

In the spring, you’ll have beautiful tulips!

If you forgot to plant your bulbs, and you really want some tulips, you may purchase some forced tulip bulbs at most greenhouses. Every year, I purchase a few this way to place in window boxes. Later, I move them to areas in the yard, so my tulip collection just keeps growing!

And now, you can have tulips in the house all year round–check out Year Round Tulips for directions!