San Antonio Express News
Sunday, October 26, 2003
by Lynn Rawe
You just can’t ask for better weather than autumn in San Antonio. Autumn is a great time for planting. Not only is it a great time to plant trees and shrubs, but also bulbs and perennials. This week’s article from the Bexar County Extension office will give you information on those bulbs that thrive in our San Antonio climate. Bad news for tulip lovers–San Antonio doesn’t offer enough cooling for tulips to do well. The same is true for hyacinths.
Never fear. If you want the beauty of bulbs in the spring, consider the Narcissus. Narcissus are also known as daffodils and paperwhites. The Narcissus choices are Grand Primo, Golden Dawn and Early Cheer. The Grand Primo, one of the tallest of the daffodils at 24 inches, has creamy white blooms with a pale yellow center. One plant will offer an average of 10 strongly scented flowers.
Golden Dawn daffodils sport a smaller, fragrant flower with a yellow bloom and an orange center. Dawn is a heavy flowering producer and often sends up a second set of blooms after the first ones fade.
Early Cheer daffodils produce clusters of 15-20 flowers of white blossoms with yellow centers. Early Cheer is fragrant and a long-lasting, late bloomer. It can be naturalized easily and is often used in flower arrangements.
Oxblood lilies are southern favorites. They are hardy, resilient members of the amaryllis family producing clusters of small, deep red flowers from August through September. This bulb is a must for our area. Buy bulbs that are the size of a golf ball.
Hymenocallis is another great lily. Tropical Giant, sometimes called Spider Lily, is a wonderful Hymenocallis selection, another “old southern garden ” favorite. The white, strap-like flowers with dark green leaves are a striking addition to any garden.
“Mexican Firecracker” tuberose would be a great addition to your garden. Its fragrant, red-orange flowers attract hummingbirds. Sensory gardens need this plant to be complete.
No southern garden is complete without crinums. This old favorite comes in a variety of colors and hold tough against the heat of the summer.
“Elizabeth Traub” is a fragrant, hot pink crinum with a deep wine colored tint. This crinum prefers partial shade and grows to the height of about 4feet.
“Bradley” is another a hot pink flowering crinum that prefers partial shade.
“Ellen Bosenquet” has slightly ruffled leaves and produces a hot pink to purplish flower with white threads. The maximum height is 24 inches. This crinum blooms in June.
“Maiden’s Blush” is a pale pink, fragrant, long lasting crinum that can have a prolific showing of 20 blooms or more. But, be patient, it may take up to 3 years for the plant to reach this mature, producing stage.
“Summer Nocturne” crinum 24 inches tall and blooms from July until frost. Spikes produce five to six purplish-pink flowers that gradually fade to white.
When shopping for your bulbs, your selections should be firm and blemish free. Choose the largest bulbs. Some bulbs may have bulblets off of the side. Do not separate the bulbs and bulblets.
If it is necessary to store the bulbs until they are ready to plant, do so at temperatures between 35 to 42 degrees F. Place them inside a paper sack in the crisper compartment of your refrigerator. Do not store any fruit in the same drawer. The ripening fruit will produce ethylene gas, causing the flowers buds within the bulb, to die.
Plant all bulbs at the proper depth with the “pointy” side up and flat end down. A general rule is to plant the bulbs twice their own depth. This means that smaller bulbs would be planted much closer to the surface of the soil than larger bulbs. Mulch them to keep them cool and dark. This will encourage the bulbs to grow properly at the right time.
A carefully selected variety of bulbs will be offered at the first Annual Bulbs and Blooms Mart as a part of this year’s Fall Garden Fair on Saturday, November 8 at the San Antonio Botanical Garden. In conjunction with the Bulbs and Blooms Mart, the Botanical Garden’s Carriage House will host presenters Ed Bradley ( roses) at 10:00 am. and Steve Lowe (bulbs) at 1:00 pm. Both speakers will offer valuable advice on how to successfully grow roses and bulbs in San Antonio.