Printer Friendly

The "bulbs" of summer.

For easy-care summer bloom, few plants give more satisfaction than the four shown here: agapanthus, amaryllis, crocosmia, and daylilies. All come back each year in greater profusion. You can leave them in place for six years or longer--they bloom best when crowded. Divide only when flowers become sparse, or if you want more plants.

These unthirsty plants are noted survivors of non-maintenance spots such as vacant lots. But for best bloom and attractive foliage, water actively growing plants before soil dries out. All need good drainage.

In areas with coastal influence, all thrive in full sun; inland, provide some afternoon shade to keep flower colors vivid.

You can buy agapanthus and daylilies in containers all year. In summer, you may also find amaryllis and crocosmia for sale in containers. More likely, you'll have to buy them dormant: amaryllis bulbs in fall or spring crocosmia corms (also sold as montbretia) in January.

Space plants or roots of agapanthus, amaryllis, and daylilies 1 to 2 feet apart. Space corms of crocosmia 3 to 4 inches apart in clusters between the other three. Or fill the gaps with a spongy mulch or other flowers. (For more good companions, see page 274 of the May Sunset.) Four bulbous bloomers

Agapanthus is green all year in most of California. It blooms for about two months from May into July, often longer near the coast. Seed-grown plants come in diverse sizes and every gradation of blue to white. If color is important to you, buy plants in bloom. For uniform size, buy plants of the same name that look similar in height and leaf width.

The standard-size agapanthus, A. orientalis (also sold as A. africanus or A. umbellatus), has 4- to 5-foot stalks of blue or white flowers. Intermediate sizes with 2- to 3-foot stems include blue 'Queen Anne', 'Dwarf White', 'Rancho White', and white 'Peter Pan Albus'. Dwarf blue 'Peter Pan' has 1- to 2-foot flower stems and short, narrow leaves; it tends to bloom longer than the other kinds.

At specialty nurseries or arboretum sales, you may find some rarities: 'Huntington Blue' and 'Walter Doty' are dark blue; 'Aurea' and 'Argentea' have cream- or white-edged leaves; 'Mood Indigo'--the only deciduous kind named here--has deep purple flowers.

In cold-winter areas, move agapanthus indoors in winter. Amaryllis (A. belladonna) or belladonna lilu sends up 3-foot stalks in late July or August near the coast, often later inland. Leaves don't grow until flowers finish. One way to camouflage this odd growth habit is to interplant with agapanthus as shown. Inland, the two plants often bloom at different times, but the agapanthus foliage still covers the bare amaryllis stems.

The best time to transplant or divide amaryllis is after foliage dies in June, but before flowers fade. These bulbs are more senstive than the others to excess moisture, so provide extra-good drainage. In cold-winter climates, plant in a protected southern exposure and cover the bulbs with 5 to 6 inches of soil. Crocosmia grows hip- to waist-high, with fans of sword-shaped leaves and arching sprays of fiery flowers. Plants spread readily by seeds and underground cormlets, but are easy to control. Mature stands spring up as thickly as grass, blooming as early as June in Southern California, as late as September in the Northwest. Plants thrive best near the coast. Inland, they need partial shade and ample water. Leaves die back in winter. DAylilies (Hemerocallis) come in a rainbow of hues, from the popular yellows and oranges to the less familiar pinks, lilacs, and burgundies. Each flower lasts only a day, but buds open over many weeks. Peak bloom is in May and June, but many new varieties bloom two or three times each year (sometimes nine months a year in Southern California). The standard size is about 3 feet tall; dwarf kinds may stay under 12 inches.

In mild-winter climates, choose either evergreen or deciduous kinds, but cut even evergreens to the base in winter to renew their foliage. In very cold-winter areas, stick with the hardier deciduous varieties. Most container plants are labeled only by color and size. Dormant roots of named varieties are available by mail now or in early spring; nurseries usually offer them only in February and March.

Mail-order sources include Cordon Bleu Farms, Box 2033, San Marcos, Calif. 92069, and Melrose Gardens, 309 Best Rd., Stockton, Calif. 95205 (both catalogs $1); and Iris Lane Gardens, 1649 S. Iris Lane, Escondido, Calif. 92026 (enclose 20-cent stamp for price list).
COPYRIGHT 1984 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Date:Jul 1, 1984
Previous Article:Doing over the pool.
Next Article:Italian splashes ... they are super-fruity.

Related Articles
These bulbs are California comebackers.
Plant them, then forget them ... they are crinums.
Scaling lilies? It's a way to get 20 new plants from a single bulb.
Triple-size but less potent ... elephant garlic.
Summer surprises in February's bulb bins.
Better bulbs? One secret is to dig and store them after bloom.
It's a tough little bulb.
Bulbs forever.
The basics of naturalizing bulbs.
Summer's show-off bulbs.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters