Printer Friendly

Hannah Stephenson.

L ATE summer-flowering bulbs, such as dahlias, crocosmias and lilies, bring a burst of colour in the borders when a lot of other plants are past their best.

However, their maintenance can become a chore in the autumn, when many will need to be dug up and stored until next year.

Busy gardeners may not have the time or the inclination to dig up bulbs, clean and dry them off and store them in a frost-free place until next year.

However, there are summer-flowering bulbs which are happy to stay in the ground and will perform in subsequent years, says Miek Stap, consultant at the Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Centre.

Truly perennial bulbs include lilies, Anemone coronaria, crocosmia, liatris and Commelina coelistis.

"Most of these bulbs are sun lovers," Stap says. "Plant them in spots where there is a lot of sun during at least three-quarters of the day."

Lilies like "cold feet" in summer, so they perform better when they are mixed in a border planting where other plants cover the

Anemone coronaria bulbs are true perennials ground. Plant them with companions with heavy foliage such as Alchemilla mollis and heuchera.

Anemone coronaria and Commelina coelistis are also both sun lovers. They prefer the soil to be warmed up easily and therefore need to be planted in a more solitary setting, but will soon fill up the border and give good flower display. If the ground is too cold in early spring, they will have trouble emerging.

Crocosmia is a very easy plant, but is also quite invasive, so be careful where you plant and which variety you choose. In more organic and moisture-retentive soil, the plant will grow large leaves but bear fewer flowers, so they don't need much watering - the drier the ground, the more flowers.

Liatris also prefers drier, less rich soil.

Other bulbs which may come back, depending on the winter rain and snow,

Crocosmia add colour to borders when a lot of other plants are past their best include Gladiolus calianthus, canna, crinum, eucharis, Nerine bowdenii, tigridia and Zantedeschia aethiopica.

"All these bulbs return better when the soil remains dry in winter time. As soon as they are surrounded by wet soil and the frost gets into the ground, they will start rotting," says Stap.

There are ways to improve the chances of bulbs left in the ground to repeat-flower in subsequent years.

"Plant the bulbs a little deeper than the packaging says, although they will take a little longer to come up in the first year's season as the soil stays cold longer on a deeper level," she says.

"If you are not harvesting the bulbs in autumn and you would like them to return next summer, it is important that they have nutrients - nothing special, regular fertilising of your summer borders will do."

Allow leaves and stems to die down naturally, because, if you cut them down, it often disturbs the growing process for next year's bulbs.

Those that don't die down until heavy frosts appear, such as canna and crinum, should be covered with leaves or straw to protect them over the winter.

Of course, if you want your dahlias, begonias and gladioli to survive the winter without having to dig them up, the answer could be to grow them in containers and just put the pots containing the bulbs in a frost-free shed or cool greenhouse for the winter. There, they will become completely dry without any work involved. If the plants have had plenty of feed in late summer, it will give them a strong base for next year.
COPYRIGHT 2009 MGN Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 31, 2009
Words:600
Previous Article:All aboard for holiday luxury; Trevor Mason joins the Golden Eagle as it winds its way along the Trans-Siberian railway.
Next Article:also showing; G-FORCE (PG) Rating: ...

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters