Autumn Crocus – Colchicum
It is common knowledge that you can plant bulbs in the fall that will bloom the following spring. These are known as ‘hardy bulbs’ because they can withstand and often need the cold weather to produce their flowers. But not every gardener knows that there are bulbs that can be planted during April and May (after the danger of frost) that will bloom during summer and fall. These are referred to as ‘tender bulbs’ as they do not withstand winter and must be dug up in the fall before frost to be stored indoors.
These tender bulbs are not all referred to as bulbs. Some are called tubers or rhizomes, others corms. But to simplify things, I will refer to them as bulbs. Bulbs are typically for sale at garden centers just before the correct planting time for that zone. Be sure to plant the bulbs as soon as possible after purchasing them; following planting instructions.
Flowering bulbs to plant in early spring are Ranunculus, Anemone Coronaria, and Dahlias. The flowering bulbs Gladiolus, Freesias, Alstroemerias, Calla lilies,Canna Lilies, Agapanthus, and Begonias, plus foliage producing Caladium and Elephant Ears, should be planted before the end of May. Plant Autumn Crocus, also called Colchicum bulbs (the blooms resemble spring crocus, but are much bigger) in the summer (early August is fine) as they flower in the fall.
Ha! Too much snow in New England this second day in March to begin any of the tasks I’ve listed in this blog post.
However, if you want to know the weather in New England, wait five minutes. Or, wait a couple of weeks and hopefully, the snow will have melted and the Hellebore’s and spring bulbs will be able to poke up through the ground.
• Pots used for planting need to be free of mold and fungus. If you didn’t clean your pots in the fall, soak and sterilize them for 10 minutes in 1 part bleach mixed into 9 parts water. Scrub them inside and out until they are clean, and then rinse them thoroughly with water.
• Gardening tools that haven’t been cleaned can be washed and sterilized with 70% Isopropyl Alcohol. And oiled with WD-40.
• Sharpen your pruning tools, shovel blades, garden bed edger’s and mower blades with a # 10 mill bastard file, or take them to a professional tool sharpener. You can purchase the metal file from your local hardware store or woodworking shop.
• Get your lawn mower and other garden equipment tuned-up.
• Fertilize shrubs and trees with organic fertilizer. Use Holly Tone for acidic loving plants, Plant Tone for alkaline loving plants and Rose Tone for roses.
• Remove winter mulch when the soil has thawed from winter cold. Apply, and dig in a two to three inch layer of compost to your perennial and shrub garden beds to amend the soil.
• Schedule appointments for professional lawn and garden services for spring garden clean ups.
• Join a garden club or take a gardening class to get new ideas and meet other gardeners.