Often, one of the first questions that a transplanted gardener asks us is “do tulips and daffodils grow here?” They don’t and you’ll only miss them for a little while! Around here, we have some pretty glorious flowering bulbs that will make you beam! We’re talking about Amaryllis, Asiatic Lilies, Cannas, Blood Lilies, and the remarkably cool Caladiums that may not flower but sure grab attention. If you love bulbs like we do for the way they emerge after they’re forgotten and the really sweet display they give, we have that in common. And if you’ve not yet planted a collection, we’ll tell you what you’re missing.
Some of our favorites bring surprise and vibrancy to any garden. Asiatic Lilies, pictured here in bloom in Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens in Charlotte, NC, are looking so lovely in red. These need to be planted in an area where they will receive oohs and aaahs and a little dose of Winter “cold” so they know when to begin their big reveal.
Amaryllis is a showy answer to the tulips you might miss! With blooms that can be 5 or 6 inches across, in vivid colors and even some exotic striped cultivars, these really put on the ritz. These grow well in part shade/part sun so long as they have enough light to bloom. The flowers last for a few weeks and then you’ll enjoy the pretty glossy foliage. In spite of their princess-pretty appearance, they are low maintenance. They like to dry down a bit between waterings.
Canna lilies are one of this writer’s truest loves (you’ll catch me labeling nearly everything that blooms as such). They aren’t really lilies at all and they grow from rhizomes. They grow tall, from 3 to 6 feet depending on the variety and they are so striking. They bloom with fluttery flowers in bright colors. They have pretty green or bronze foliage, some have variegated leaves. They do require some work once established so they will continue to look fresh. They will need a little deadheading, some leaf removal and a fair amount of water to look their best. Many gardeners use them as a specimen, planting just one or a few, and although they are more work than some, they really are worth it and it’s obvious why!
Another cool flowering bulb is one of our very faves. With scarlet flowers like pin cushions, these are always raved about! African Blood Lily is just glorious right now and Terri and Marvin have a stunner blooming in their garden! Plant these in a partly sunny spot and do not overwater. They have nice thick leaves that look good even when they aren’t in bloom. One of our customers said that she was so excited to see that the blood lily she bought and planted last year finally bloomed. Patience is a lesson the garden is awesome at teaching, friends. You see this stunning plant at Pinder’s and you feverishly buy it, take it home and plant it. Everyone remarks on it, and asks the name. After a couple months it goes dormant and you try like heck to forget about it. Other plants catch your eye, you add them to your space, and you enjoy. Time rolls on and Spring returns and you remember that you bought that lily this time last year and it was blooming then, so you wait eagerly expecting and you glance everyday at the place where it sparkled last year. Finally, there she is and she is not disappointing! The wait is worth it, and you were meant to learn more about this kind of patience and you were meant to rejoice in this kind of reward, because you’re a gardener.
Finally, one of the easiest bulbs to plant for some of the best color: Caladiums. These happy, heart shaped leaves give us all the tropical feels. I love to stick them in pots and totally forget about them in the Winter when they naturally recede so that I can be surprised when they pop up and their leaves unfurl. They show off their multicolored leaves in Spring, Summer and Fall. They like moist soil, part shade and good drainage. They are fine with heat and humidity. Plant them at least 8 inches apart and enjoy their cheer.
For these plants, we recommend Bulb-tone by Espoma. This is a fertlizer formulation especially for tubers and bulbs. It’s rich in bone meal and releases over time. We like Southern Ag Neem for the leaf fungus that liliacea sometimes get. If you have any questions about bulbs or lily care or maintenance, ask us, we’re so happy to help you enjoy the sweet surprise of bulb season!