signals the end of winter like the first crocuses poking their heads
through the last of the melting snows. Few plants are as easy to grow,
or as rewarding, as the early-blooming bulbs. The only challenge is
remembering to purchase and plant the bulbs — during the excitement
of the summer and fall gardening season, it's hard to imagine just
how bleak the garden can look in late winter. Plan now for fall planting,
and come spring you'll be glad you did!
is a selection of early-blooming bulbs. Since many of these are small
in stature, they look best planted in relatively large numbers. Don't
be intimidated by the thought of planting 100 or more bulbs; the tiny
bulbs take just seconds to plant, especially if your soil is relatively
loose. Simply make a slice in the soil with a trowel about 4 inches
deep, wiggle it a little to make a hole, and, holding the soil back
with the trowel, drop in the bulb. As you slide out the trowel, push
any scattered soil back into the hole, then water the area to settle
||Blue Siberian Squills (Scilla)
is one of the earliest spring flowers to bloom. Flowering for
a remarkably long time they bear clusters of bloom spikes that
offer scented deep blue flowers. Exquisite when planted under
spring flowering shrubs such as forsythia, azaleas, rhododendrons,
ring in the spring in a range of colors from blue to yellow to
white. The bright colors are wonderful planted in masses so you
can enjoy a carpet of color from a distance. In the case of crocuses,
more is definitely better! And like snowdrops, crocuses will multiply
each year, especially if they are planted in the very well-drained
soil they prefer.
||Snow Glories (Chionodoxa)
called Glory of the Snow, these beauties will blanket the ground with blue in early spring. Each
bulb produces multiple star-shaped, sky-blue flowers. Just 4
to 5 inches in height, they look best planted in large drifts,
and will multiply rapidly.
||Grape Hyacinth (Muscari)
hyacinths aren't true hyacinths, but instead are in the genus Muscari. However, if you look closely at these flowers, you'll see the resemblance
to hyacinths in the clusters of tiny flowers atop strap-like foliage. Grape hyacinths are so eager to multiply that they can become weedy — that
is, if you consider a plant with such beautiful flowers a weed. Plant them where they can spread freely — in the lawn, under shrubs — rather
than in a formal bed.
the above flowers, with their diminutive stature and often muted
colors, gently announce the arrival of spring, true hyacinths fairly
yell it from the rooftops. And not only are they extravagant in
appearance, they are also wonderfully fragrant. Add these to the
fact that hyacinths are very easy to grow, and there's no reason
not to include at least a few of these beauties in your garden.
They are also excellent for forcing indoors, where you can enjoy
their scent each time you pass by.
about Early Spring Bulbs
The hyacinth bulbs I forced indoors are droopy. Is there anything
I can do to make them stand up?
It's likely that
the room is too warm or the plant ins't getting enough light. Hyacinths
like it on the cool side, around 60F, and should be kept in a bright
room but out of direct sunlight.
hyacinth bulbs popping out of the ground
some heavy rains last spring, my grape hyacinth (Muscari) bulbs, which
have been in the ground for a number of years, started popping out
of the ground. What happened?
frost heaving, or overcrowding could be the cause. Since these bulbs
are planted only a few inches deep, freezing and thawing of the ground,
coupled with the soil washing away during spring rains, could have
eroded soil around the bulbs and made it appear as if they had popped
out. Simply push the bulbs back into the ground. To avoid this problem
in the future, in fall after the ground has frozen, mulch the planting
with 2 to 4 inches of bark.
My crocuses are becoming very tall and falling over. Should I cut
Don't cut them
back. Always let the foliage on the bulbs die back naturally, so the
bulb can replenish its food storage in preparation for the next season.
Bulbs tend to get floppy if they are not getting enough sun and/or
if the weather is too warm. If they are growing in shade, you might
move them to a sunnier location. If the weather's been unusually warm,
there's not much you can do.
Is it true that saffron comes from the crocus flower? Can I grow
the crocus in my gargen?
from the dried stigmas of a fall-blooming crocus, C. sativus.
If your crocus are C. sativus, you can harvest your own saffron.
Pick the stigmas — the yellow threads in the center of the flower — as
soon as flowers open, air-dry them, then store them in an airtight
container to be used to flavor foods. You'll need about 100,000 blossoms
to produce one pound of saffron, but only a dozen to flavor a family-sized