Growing Flower Bulbs – Flower Bulb Varieties



Flower Bulbs – Plants for the Garden

tulips - growing flower bulbs Making plant recommendations is always a pleasure, but it invariably presents me with a problem – not what to include but more, what to leave out. Such is the wealth of material among flower bulbs, corms and tubers for outdoor planting that one must be more selective than one would wish. I have, however, done my best to cater for many different tastes and to include plants suitable for many different situations.

My advice to intending planters is to try to see as many as possible of the plants I have described, growing in gardens under natural conditions. This serves two very useful purposes: it firstly familiarises you with the plants and it shows how well they associate with plants which are their neighbours. With some very fine private gardens now opened to the public for charity, and with so many public parks in all parts of the country making the fullest use of bulbs, corms and tubers in their planting schemes, it is not at all difficult to find the plants you are seeking.

A spring visit to the permanent display garden of the British flower bulb industry at Springfields, Spalding, in Lincolnshire, is well worth while and it is very easy, with air travel and cheap tours available, to visit the famous Keukenhof Gardens near Lisse in Holland where the Dutch bulb trade show bulbs grown in beautiful surroundings and used for every conceivable decorative and screening purpose.


A Selected List of Flower Bulbs

Acidanthera. The pretty 3 ft. tall Acidanthera bicolor murieliae from Abyssinia, related to the gladiolus, is unfortunately only suitable for growing outdoors permanently in more favoured parts of the country, but elsewhere the corms can be planted out in spring and lifted again after flowering in autumn. The fragrant white flowers marked with a maroon blotch appear in September and October. Plant the corms in March or early April, 3 in. deep and 6 in. apart. Increase by offsets or seed, sown under glass in spring.

African Corn Lily, see Ixia

African Lily, see Agapanthus

Agapanthus. The blue heads of flowers and the large strap-shaped leaves give the African Lily, Agapanthus orientalis (syn. A. umbellatus), a distinctive appearance. The flowers are borne on stems 2 to 3 ft. tall and this species makes an excellent tub plant, to be taken into a greenhouse in winter. Agapanthus has a creeping rootstock and the crown should be just below the surface when planting in spring. Increased by offsets, division or seed. From seed, though, it takes five to six years to flower.

allium Allium. The genus Allium includes the domestic onion but this should be no deterrent to growing some of the very ornamental species, for these only have the characteristic onion smell if the leaves are bruised. A splendid species is the June-flowering A. ostrowskianum with ball-like umbels of rose-coloured flowers. These flowers are carried on 6 to 9 in. stems. Another popular species is A. moly with yellow flowers on 12 in. stems. This flowers a little earlier. The white-flowered A. neapolitanum is 18 in. tall. All these can be planted in autumn, 3 to 4 in. deep in a sunny, open position. Increase by division of the bulb clusters in autumn or by seed sown in spring in a cool greenhouse or frame.

Amaryllis belladonna. This lovely, lily-like bulbous plant is only suitable for warm sunny positions, for preference under a south-facing wall. It bears fragrant, rosy-red trumpet flowers on 18 in. stems in late summer and early autumn. Plant 4 in. deep and 12 in. apart in August. Increase by offsets removed at this time or by seed sown in heat in spring. The latter is a very slow process, plants probably taking seven years to flower. It is, of course, a magnificent pot plant, with a very stately appearance.

American Wood Lily, see Trillium

Autumn Crocus, see Colchicum

anemone (windflower) Anemone (Windflower). These are lovely tuberous-rooted plants for various positions. The St Brigid and de Caen types have flowers of many colours and are, of course, well known as excellent cut flowers. The stems are up to 1 ft. long. Plant the tubers 2 to 3 in. deep and 6 in. apart in November for spring flowering, in April or May for July flowering and in June for September flowering. There are also numerous varieties of the species A. blanda, with flowers from blue to white in colour, and A. nemorosa, with white, pink-tipped flowers, for March and April flowering. The latter will colonise borders under shrubs and other places where it gets light shade. The gay scarlet A. fulgens flowers in May. A. blanda prefers a sunny position and a sheltered site with good well-drained soil. The blue wood anemone, A. apennina, is a charming plant for naturalising in grass. Increase from seed, or by dividing the tubers.

Antholyza, see Curtonus

Babiana. The beautiful babianas (forms of Babiana stricta) can be grown outdoors in favoured areas, given a light sandy soil and a well-drained sunny border. Winter protection must be provided even then, though, if they are to come through safely-ashes, bracken or similar covering. Alternatively the bulbs can be lifted and stored. Lovely colours are available, from blue and cream to rose-pink and crimson and the flowers are borne in April and May. Plant 4 in. deep and 2 in. apart. Excellent pot plants. Increase is from seed or offsets.

Begonia Begonia. The tuberous begonias, from orange and red to yellow and white, are fine bedding plants for planting out after danger of frost has passed. The tubers are started into growth in February, March or April in a greenhouse with a minimum temperature of 13° C. (55° F.). Plant them in boxes of moist peat or a moist peat and sand mixture and when growth begins pot into 5 in. pots filled with John Innes No. 2 Potting Compost. Harden off before planting out. Lift and store the tubers in October. Increase from seed sown in January or February in a temperature of 18° C. (65° F.) or rather more.


Bluebell, see Scilla

Camassia (Quamash) Camassia (Quamash). The colour of Camassia esculenta may be anything from white to deep blue and I find the spikes of star-shaped flowers pleasing in the border during the early part of summer. This species can be used for naturalising in light woodland but it is more normally grown as a border plant, reaching a height of about 2 ft. The flowers appear in June and July. Any ordinary soil will suit the camassias. Other species grown include the 3 ft. C. cusickii and C. scilloides (syn. C. fraseri) of half this height. Both have pale blue flowers. Plant 4 to 5 in. deep and the same distance apart in autumn in sun or light shade. It is usual to leave them alone as long as possible, but some gardeners like to lift and replant the bulbs every four years. Increase is from seed, or rarely division.

Cardiocrinum. The spectacular 6 to 10 ft. tall Cardiocrinum giganteum (formerly known as Lilium giganteum) is a plant only for those with woodland and plenty of space. The white flowers appear in July and August and the bulbs die after flowering. Plant the bulbs in October, just covering them with soil. The offsets which are produced provide a means of increase and seeds may also be sown to produce flowering plants after about seven years.

Chionodoxa (Glory of the Snow) Chionodoxa (Glory of the Snow). The lovely little chionodoxas named luciliae and sardensis are delightful, among other things, for brightening up the rock garden and window boxes in March. C. luciliae is blue with a white centre and C. sardensis a striking deep blue. They need plenty of sun and good drainage. Plant 3 in. deep and 1 in. apart in autumn. Propagate from offsets or seeds.

Colchicum (Autumn Crocus or Meadow Saffron). The colchicums will grow in sun or semi-shade and like well-drained, light soil for preference. The flowers appear before the leaves and the colours range from white to purple. The 9- to 12 in. tall Colchicum speciosum comes into flower in September and the 4 in. C. autumnale and its varieties flower a little earlier. Plant 3 in. deep and 6 in. apart in July or August and increase by division of the clumps at this time or by seeds sown in a cold frame in late summer.

Crinum. The beautiful South African crinums C. bulbispermum (syn. C. longifolium) and C. powellii are superb plants for sunny, sheltered positions, preferably backed by a south-facing wall. The trumpet-shaped flowers will be of better quality if the soil is rich. C. bulbispermum, 3 ft. tall, bears rose-coloured flowers in summer; C. powellii, of similar height, bears its lovely rich rose-pink flowers rather later from July to September. Protect with straw or other material in winter. Plant the bulbs so that their tips are just under the soil. Increase by offsets, or by seeds sown in spring in a warm greenhouse.

Crocosmia Crocosmia. Like the two crinums above, Crocosmia masonorum is a plant which teeters on the edge of hardiness. This, too, needs a warm, sunny border to be a success in our gardens, and it likes a light, sandy soil best of all. The flowers, borne in arching sprays on 2-1/2 ft. stems are an eye-catching orange-red shade, and appear in August and September. Plant the corms 6in. deep in spring and lift and store them at the end of the season in those gardens which tend to be frosty, over-wintering them in an airy frost-proof shed or room. Otherwise, leave them in the ground and protect with straw, bracken, ashes or other suitable material in winter. Increase is by offsets or seed.

The montbretias are also correctly included here for the garden varieties are grouped under the name Crocosmia crocosmiiflora. The large flowered hybrids which have been developed in quite recent years are a tremendous advance on the old cottage garden montbretia and in many gardens the relative tenderness of these will necessitate lifting them in autumn and over-wintering the plants in a garden frame. However, experience may prove in some gardens that it is sufficient to protect the plants with bracken, straw or similar material, and certainly thwi will be so in the case of the common kinds. The plants grow 2 to 3 ft tall and they need well-drained soil and a sunny position. Nothing show off their bright yellow, orange or crimson late summer flowers better than a light-coloured wall as a background. If the plants are left undisturbed over winter, a wall or similar structure will also help give protection. Excellent named varieties are the golden-yellow Rheingold, the orange-red James Coey, and His Majesty, orange-red and crimson. Plant the corms 3 ins deep in March or April and 6 in. apart. Increase by division in March and April.

Crocus Crocus. This large genus provides us with many fine garden flowers for brightening the garden in spring and autumn. All need well-drained soil and should preferably be left undisturbed for several years at least. The colour range is from white to yellow and purple. They are much used for naturalising in grass, for planting in borders, in the rock garden, and as an edging to paths or borders. Plant the winter and spring-flowering kinds like Crocus tomasinianus in September and October, and the autumn-flowering ones like C. speciosus and C. zonatus ( C . kotschyanus ) in July. Especially fine winter-flowering crocuses are C. chrysanthus E. A. Bowles, a deep yellow colour with bronzy-brown throat markings; C. c. Snow Bunting, white, with lilac-coloured markings; C. tomasinianus Whitewell Purple, a lovely mauvishpurple; and C. c. Taplow Ruby, a reddish-purple shade.

Plant all of them not more than 3 in. deep and about 3 in. apart. Increase is by offsets or seeds.

Crown Imperial, see Fritillaria

Curtonus. The plant named Curtonus paniculatus will be better known to many gardeners under its old name of Antholyza paniculata, and very handsome it is in late summer when bearing its branched, arching stems of orange-red, tubular flowers. It grows up to 4 ft. tall. It should be given a sunny position, preferably at the foot of a south-facing wall, and winter protection in the form of ashes, bracken, straw or other material unless the soil is particularly light and well drained. Plant the corms 4 in. deep and 6 to 8 in. apart in March or April. Increase by offsets or by seeds sown in a cool greenhouse.

Cyclamen Cyclamen. Both the autumn and spring-flowering cyclamen are a joy if planted in the conditions they like in a cool, shady spot with rather peaty soil as a root run. Cyclamen coum, which flowers in February and March, is a popular species with dainty carmine blooms. C. neapolitanum, with rosy-pink flowers in August and September, C. europaeum, with carmine flowers in autumn, and C. repandum, with crimson flowers in spring, are species with beautifully marbled foliage. These make an extremely attractive ground cover which is with us for most of the year. Plant during August and September, 1-1/2 in deep and 3 in. apart, then leave undisturbed for a long period.

Increase by seed sown in spring in a cool greenhouse or frame, or by dividing old clumps in August or September.

Dierama. Like so many other fine bulbous plants Dierama pulcherrimum comes from South Africa. The foliage is grass-like and a perfect foil for the long, arched flower stems from which hang the bell-like flowers of purple or white in June and July. Unfortunately it is not very hardy and a sunny, sheltered position is needed for it with a well-drained but moist soil as a growing medium. Plant the corms 3 to 4 in. deep and 3 in. apart in autumn. Increase by seeds sown in spring in a greenhouse or frame or by dividing the clusters of corms in March.

Dog’s-tooth Violet, see Erythronium

Endymion, see Scilla

Eranthis (Winter Aconite). The species most usually grown is the January-March-flowering Eranthis hyemalis, the cheery yellow blooms of which show up well against the distinctive frame of much divided leaves. The eranthis are useful plants as they like shady conditions and can be used in many parts of the garden, including near trees and in grass. Plant 2 in. deep and 2 in. apart in September or October and leave undisturbed as long as possible. Increase by division of the tubers in September or October.

Erythronium (Dog’s-tooth Violet) Erythronium (Dog’s-tooth Violet). These also, like the eranthis, are plants for semi-shade which like to be left undisturbed. They are one of the delights of the spring garden. Various forms of the Dog’s-tooth Violet, Erythronium dens-canis, are available in white, purple, pink and mauve and in heights from 6 to 9 in. The nodding flowers appear in March and April. Slightly later flowering is the handsome E. revolutum with delightfully mottled leaves. This species has rose-pink flowers and there is a white variety, White Beauty, with brown markings at the base of the petals. E. tuolumnense is another fine species, with golden-yellow flowers and pale green leaves. They are especially well suited to the rock garden. Plant in August or September, 2 to 3 ins. deep and the same distance apart, in a soil which contains plenty of humus material. Increase by offsets removed in early autumn.

Flower of the West Wind, see Zephyranthes

Fritillaria. There are two widely dissimilar members of this genus to which I would draw attention-the beautifully marked 1 ft. tall Snake’s-head Fritillary, Fritillaria meleagris and the 3 to 4 ft. Crown Imperial, F. imperialis. The bell-shaped flowers of the elegant meleagris are beautifully chequered in various shades of purple and there are fine named forms available, like the white Aphrodite, the dark purple Charon, and Saturnus, a pinkish-purple shade. The Crown Imperial is an impressive plant with a close-packed tuft of leaves encircling the tops of the stems above the nodding yellow, red or orange-red bell-shaped flowers. Both flower in April, the Snake’s-head Fritillary being partial to a moist but well-drained soil and the Crown Imperial liking a heavyish, fairly rich soil. The Snake’s-head is a plant to grow in borders or in grass in half shade, and the Crown Imperial is best suited to a partly shaded border. Plant the bulbs in September or as soon thereafter as possible, meleagris 4 in. deep and 6 in. apart, imperialis 6 in. deep and 12 in. apart in a very well prepared soil. Leave undisturbed for as long as possible. Increase is by offsets taken at the time of planting.

Galanthus (Snowdrop) Galanthus (Snowdrop). The 6 in. tall Galanthus nivalis is our much-loved common snowdrop and a particularly fine variety is S. Arnott, this having beautifully formed flowers. Another outstanding variety is atkinsii. These snowdrops are January/February-flowering and by planting others like byzantinus, elwesii and plicatus – 9 to 12 in. tall-one can have several months of bloom. All have white flowers with green markings. Plant the bulbs 3 in. deep and 3 in. apart in sun or shade, but not in soil which is too light and free-draining. They can be grown in beds or borders, rock gardens, banks and in grass. Increase by offsets or by dividing clumps of bulbs after flowering in spring.

Galtonia. The white-flowered Galtonia candi- cans, which used to be known as Hyacinthus candicans, is an attractive plant with its spikes of bell-shaped flowers on 4 ft. stems. These appear in August and September and it makes a useful border plant for a sunny position. Plant the bulbs 6 in. deep and 1 ft. apart on fairly rich soil at any time between autumn and March when conditions are suitable. Increase by offsets at the time of planting.

Gladiolus Gladiolus. These lovely flowers, now available in so many beautiful colours in both large-flowered and miniature types, are of course half-hardy plants which must be lifted at the end of each season. The types grown are the large-flowered Grandiflorus, the Butterfly, Miniature and Primulinus; the catalogues of gladiolus specialists should be consulted for descriptions of varieties. With gladioli, as with so many other garden flowers-roses, dahlias and chrysanthemums are obvious examples-new varieties appear each year and the present ‘best’ ones can be superseded at any time. Some favourites of mine, though, are the orange-yellow Acca Laurentia, the salmon-rose Alfred Nobel, the pink Dr Fleming, the yellow Flower Song, the purple Mabel Violet, the red Mansoer, scarlet New Europe, blue Ravel and white Snow Princess-all large-flowered Grandiflorus varieties. Of the Butterfly varieties Femina, pink and scarlet, and the pink Melodie are favourites of mine; also the Primulinus varieties Pegasus, creamy-white and purplish-red, and White City.

Plant all these types between March and May – planting the corms in succession extends by some weeks the length of the flowering season – putting the corms 4 in. deep and 6 to 8 in. apart. Good drainage and sunshine are the main requirements, and the soil should be well prepared. Propagate from seeds or the cormlets which form round the base of the corm each season.

Glory of the Snow, see Chionodoxa

Grape Hyacinth, see Muscari

Guernsey Lily, see Nerine

Harlequin flower, see Sparaxis

Hyacinthus (Hyacinth) Hyacinthus (Hyacinth). These flowers, I always find, although much used for bedding, look more at home indoors. If they are grown outdoors, though, I consider them better for window boxes or other containers than for planting in beds. However, this is only a personal opinion and many gardeners will obviously think otherwise. Wherever they are grown there is always that wonderful scent to beguile one.

Varieties are available in red, pink, salmon, blue, yellow and white and a good bulb catalogue will give details of leading varieties. Favourites of mine are Delft Blue, a good light blue, the red Jan Bos, the salmon Lady Derby, the white L’Innocence, the deep blue Ostara and the deep pink Pink Pearl.

Hyacinths like a well-drained rich soil and it pays to feed them with bonemeal after planting. Plant the bulbs 3 to 4 in. deep and 8 in. apart in September, October or November. Propagate from small bulbs produced at the base of the parent bulb, or from seed, but this method means a wait of four to six years for the flowers.

Ipheion. Another plant which has suffered severely at the hands of the botanists in the past is Ipheion uniflorum. It has also passed under the generic names of Brodiaea, Milla and Triteleia (it is under this last that many catalogues list it) and I consider this a shame for it deserves a better fate. Only 6 in. tall, I. Uniflora has pretty white flowers shaded with blue, and it is admirably suited for the rock garden, given a warm, sunny position. The flowers appear in March and April. Plant 4 in. deep and the same distance apart in September or October. Increase by offsets or seed sown very shallowly in March and raised in a cold frame.

Iris Iris. The bulbous irises include many superb garden plants-dwarf species like Iris histrioides which flowers in early February and I. reticulata which flowers in February and March. The first is a rich blue shade with white and gold markings, the second deep blue and gold. The form of I. histrioides named major is particularly fine and popular varieties of I. reticulata are the blue and yellow Cantab; Royal Blue, bluish-purple and yellow; and Harmony, rich blue and yellow. Then there are the Dutch, Spanish and English irises which grow from 1-1/2 to 2 ft. tall and are splendid flowers for cutting, having a good range of colours from blue, mauve and yellow to white. The Dutch are the first to come into flower in May, followed by the Spanish and then the English, the season of the last being late June and July.

The Dutch, Spanish and English irises should be planted 3 in. deep and 6 in. apart in September or October in any reasonable garden soil to which a dressing of bonemeal has been added. I. Histrioides and I. reticulata need a gritty mixture and if the soil is too heavy it should be lightened by adding sand and peat. A warm sunny position and good drainage are other requirements and they make fine rock garden plants. Plant the bulbs of the first-mentioned 2 to 3 in. deep and 3 in. apart, and of reticulata 4 in. deep and 3 in. apart, in August or September. Increase is by offsets removed when the plants are lifted in autumn or from seeds sown in pots in a frame when ripe or in March.

Ixia (African Corn Lily) Ixia (African Corn Lily). The ixias are delightful, pretty, tender plants for warm gardens, with star-shaped flowers in a wide range of colours, carried in May and June on stems 1 to 1-1/2 ft. long. These colours include orange, red, violet and white, and named varieties are obtainable or mixtures. The soil for ixias must be well drained and the position sunny to achieve success. Annual lifting after the flowers die down and replanting in September and October is necessary. A border under a south-facing wall is suitable for a site. Plant the corms 4 in. deep and 2 in. apart in autumn and cover them with sand as a protection against damp. Increase is by offsets or seed.

Ixiolirion. A warm, sheltered position under a south-facing wall-with a light sandy soil-is also the best place for the ixiolirions, attractive bulbous plants with rather trumpet-like flowers in shades of blue, purple and white with narrow greyish-green leaves. Two which are offered are Ixiolirion montanum (often listed in catalogues under its old name of I. ledebourii), in various shades of blue, and the rosy to violet-blue I. m. pallasii. Both are 1 to 1-1/2ft. tall. Plant the bulbs in March 4 in. deep and 4 in. apart, and lift them for storing in September in a cool, airy room until planting time comes round. Increase is by offsets.

Kaffir Lily, see Schizostylis

Leucojum (Snowflake) Leucojum (Snowflake). The leucojums, which look like outsize snowdrops, are charming flowers, both in the case of the 1-1/2 ft. tall L. aestivum, the white, green-tipped Summer Snowflake, and in the much smaller (6 in. to 1 ft.) L. vernum, the Spring Snowflake, of similar colouring. The latter is a good bulb for naturalising in grass. Both species like to grow in shade and should be left undisturbed for periods of up to five years or so. Plant bulbs of both species 3 in. deep and 4 in. apart in September or October.

There is also an autumn-flowering species, L. autumnale, which is not much grown and this needs a warm position in full sun. It is very beautiful with white flowers tinged with pink, borne on 6 to 8 in. stems in September. Plant 3 in. deep and 3 in. apart in April. Increase by offsets removed in September or October.

Lilium, see Growing Lilies

Meadow Saffron, see Colchicum

Montbretia, see Crocosmia crocosmiiflora

Muscari (Grape Hyacinth) Muscari (Grape Hyacinth). The most well-known species is Muscari armeniacum, especially in its variety Heavenly Blue, with rich blue flowers. Another good variety is Cantab, with paler, Cambridge-blue flowers. These flowers are borne in racemes on stems some 8 in. tall.

Other grape hyacinths with especial charm and garden value are M. botryoides album, pure white as the name suggests, only 6 in. tall and very pretty in April and May when flowering freely. For March-April flowering there is the rather unusual and splendid M. tubergenianum which has flowers in two shades of blue on each spike – pale blue at the top, dark blue lower down. Another I must mention is the Plume or Feather Hyacinth, M. comosum monstrosum, or, as it is usually listed in catalogues, M. c. plumosum. The violet-coloured flower spikes of this variety have a feathery appearance and are altogether looser than those of the other muscari and it looks very effective on a sunny ledge in the rock garden.

Plant muscari in ordinary soil in sunny positions. They are splendid plants for borders, growing around trees or shrubs on rock gardens, and naturalising in grass. The bulbs should be set 3 in. deep and 4 in. apart and be planted in September or October. Increase by offsets from old bulbs at planting time.

Narcissus, see Planting Daffodils

Nerine (Guernsey Lily) Nerine (Guernsey Lily). This is a large genus but only one species, Nerine bowdenii, is suitable for garden planting, and this should be planted in a sunny, sheltered and well-drained border, preferably at the foot of a south-facing wall. This lovely plant with its distinctive heads of pink flowers borne on 1-1/2 ft. stems in September and October is not suitable, of course, for cold gardens. When grown outdoors it should be protected from November to April with bracken or other dry litter. Top-dress the plants with leafmould or well-decayed manure in August.

Plant between August and November, setting the bulbs 3 in. deep and 4 in. apart. Increase by offsets between July and September.

Ornithogalum. Ornithogalum umbellatum, the Star of Bethlehem, whose star-shaped flowers are white inside and white marked with green on the outside, is a useful plant for a mixed border, for the rock garden or for naturalising in grass or among shrubs. So, too, is O. nutans, an attractive species with more green in its colouring. O. umbellatum is up to 1 ft. tall, O. nutans up to 1-1/2 ft., and both flower in late spring and early summer. Plant the bulbs 3 to 4 in. deep and 6 in. apart between August and November. Increase by offsets removed from old bulbs.

Puschkinia (Striped Squill) Puschkinia (Striped Squill). A distinctive dwarf plant for providing colour in early spring is the 6-in.-tall Puschkinia scilloides. The white, blue-striped flowers, as the specific name indicates, resemble those of a scilla, to which it is closely related. Plant the bulbs 3 in. deep and 3 to 4 in. apart in September or October. They are suitable for border planting on the rock garden in sunny positions. Increase by offsets from old bulbs in late autumn or by seeds raised in a cold frame and sown in August or September.

Quamash, see Camassia

Ranunculus. The tuberous-rooted ranunculuses which have been derived from R. asiaticus are valued for their colourful display when used at the front of borders and for their excellence as cut flowers. The Turban and French strains are 9 to 12 in. tall and have double or semi-double flowers in May and June. Provide them with a sunny, sheltered home. Plant tubers in October or November, late February or March. The claws on the tubers should face downwards and the

Squill, Scilla sibirica Squill, Scilla sibirica. The intensely blue blooms are borne in profusion on 4 to 6 in. stems. Larger than the type is the variety atrocoerulea (or Spring Beauty as it is usually termed), which also has flowers of rich blue colouring. Another fine species is S. tubergeniana, with flowers of pale blue and white which appear in February and March. These are very effective when grown in groups in borders, on the rock garden or in grass in sunny positions.

A quite different scilla which can be grown successfully in a warm, sunny position is S. peruviana. This bears ball-shaped heads of flowers on 9 in. stems in May and June, and its specific name and common name of Cuban Lily are most misleading for it comes, in fact, from the Mediterranean region. This handsome plant is effective also in containers.

The Spanish Bluebell, which is often found listed under its old name of Scilla campanulata or depth of planting recommended is 2 to 3 in. with 4 to 6 in. between the plants. Increase by seeds raised in a cold frame or cool greenhouse. Schizostylis (Kaffir. Lily). A handsome autumn-flowering plant for a warm, sunny border is Schizostylis coccinea or one of its varieties, the September-October flowering Mrs Hegarty or the November-flowering Viscountess Byng. The attractive flowers are borne on spikes 1 to 1-½ ft. long and are crimson in the case of coccinea and pink in the case of its varieties. A good loamy soil is required and protection must be provided during hard weather in the form of a covering of bracken, straw or other dry litter. Plant between October and March when conditions are suitable. Lift and divide the bulbous rhizomes every third year in March or April.

Scilla Scilla. There are few more welcome flowers in February than those of the charming little Siberian S. hispanica is correctly now Endymion hispanicus but I shall describe it with the scillas. This is a fine plant for naturalising in light shade, say among shrubs or under trees, and there are fine named varieties like the pale blue Myosotis, the tall White Triumphator, with pure white flower spikes, and Queen of the Pinks, a rosy-pink variety. The English Bluebell, E. non-scriptus (also moved now from the genus Scilla), is so well known as to need no description and its grace and charm make it one of the pleasures of the springtime garden and countryside.

Plant in ordinary soil at any time between August and November, 2 to 4 in. deep and 4 in. apart. S. peruviana, though, should be planted 6 in. deep and 6 in. apart. Increase by offsets from old bulbs in autumn.

Siberian Squill, see Scilla

Snake’s-head Fritillary, see Fritillaria

Snowdrop, see Galanthus

Snowflake, see Leucojum

Sparaxis Sparaxis. The pretty sparaxis hybrids, with the attractive common name of Harlequin Flowers, deserve to be more widely grown. They are showy in spring when bearing their flowers in mixed colours like red, purple, black, white and yellow. They need a warm, sunny position and a fairly dry soil, and protection from bracken or other material is necessary in very cold weather. Species include the 1-1/2 ft. S. grandiflora and the slightly shorter S. tricolor. Plant the corms in autumn, 4 in. deep and 2 in. apart. Increase by offsets.

Star of Bethlehem, see Ornithogalum

Sternbergia. The cheery, yellow-flowered, crocus-like Sternbergia lutea is a charming little plant for autumn colour. The golden-yellow flowers look attractive in a border or rock garden setting, open to the sky on their 6 in. stems and thrusting above the narrow foliage. A sunny position and good drainage is essential. Plant the bulbs 4 to 6 in. deep and 6 in. apart in August or September. Increase this plant from the new bulbs produced each year.

Striped Squill, see Puschkinia

Tigridia (Tiger Flower) Tigridia (Tiger Flower). The 2 ft. tall Tigridia pavonia from Mexico is a distinctive-looking plant with its orange-red, three-petalled flowers spotted at the base with deeper colouring. There are also forms with pinkish, mauve, yellow and white colouring. These appear in late summer and early autumn and although the glory is fleeting, for each flower lasts only a day, each stem produces several flowers and this plant is well worth the space devoted to it. A sunny border and a well-drained soil is necessary and there must be no lack of moisture in dry weather.

Plant the corms 3 in. deep and 6 in. apart in April and lift them for storing in October. The storage place must be airy and frostproof. Increase by offsets removed in April.

Trillium. Somehow one does not associate trilliums with plants of the kind we are considering but they are in fact tuberous perennials. The only one I am going to refer to now, though, is the Wake Robin or American Wood Lily, Trillium grandiflorum, a lovely plant for rather damp, shady border or woodland conditions. The white flowers, some 3 in. across, are carried on 1-1/2 ft. stems above whorls of practically stemless broad leaves. There is a pink variety, roseum:

These plants need a peaty soil and much appreciate topdressing with decayed leaves. They should be left undisturbed as long as possible but can be divided when necessary, in March.

Tulipa (Tulip), see Growing Tulips

Wake Robin, see Trillium

Windflower, see Anemone

Winter Aconite, see Eranthis

Zephyranthes (Zephyr Flower, Flower of the West Wind) Zephyranthes (Zephyr Flower, Flower of the West Wind). Only one of these intriguingly named, handsome American bulbous plants is hardy in this country, Zephyranthes candida, with white flowers on 6 to 12 in. stems. It is a handsome plant with the star-like flowers open above grass-like foliage in September and it is well worth trying in a warm, sunny border, preferably against a south wall. The soil is best light and sandy, and must be very well drained. Plant the bulbs between August and November 4 in. deep and 4 in. apart and increase by offsets during the same period.


01. October 2010 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Bulbous Plants, Plants & Trees | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Growing Flower Bulbs – Flower Bulb Varieties

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