Thick-stemmed “King Alfred” daffodils are well suited for windy Haida Gwaii. (InAweofGod’sCreation/Flickr)

Deer Gardener: Bulbs go boldly into winter

By Elaine Nyeholt

Bulb time! I love bulbs. I think of each one as a tidy precious bundle of promise for the next season. Everything to produce a spring flower is neatly tucked within the shell of the bulb to provide for a future bloom. Apparently corms, rhizomes, and tubers are all considered bulbs, but then there are “true” bulbs that store and provide nutrients at the correct time to support growth and blooms.

The earlier blooming spring bulbs are usually shorter, smaller flowered, and often multi-flowered, which protects them somewhat during foul weather. They need to be placed in groups about 10 cm apart to have a good show. Plant them anytime now, being careful that the soil bed drains well enough that it won’t rot the bulb. Also, plant them deep enough so you won’t disturb them when putting in annuals.

One option is to plant them in largish pots and sink the bottom half in the ground to stabilize them against the wind. The pots can be moved after blooming to a less visible location to finish the die-down. I like this system, but it’s more time-consuming.

Anemone bulbs like to be soaked for a few hours before planting. It is difficult to tell the top from the bottom, so planting them on their side is a viable option.

My all-time favourite daffodil bulbs are called King Alfred. The large plain yellow flowers stand up to the weather well on strong stems. Bold and tenacious… what more can we ask for in a plant.

Many new multi-flowered daffodils and tulips have become available in recent years. Do not under estimate the effectiveness of these plants. They provide an exquisite show of color and fragrance even. Grouping bulbs is much nicer than having a single flower here and there.

Hardy Gladiolas (Gladiolus Byzantinus) do extremely well here and can be planted in the fall or spring. They are quite carefree but for basic weeding and well-drained soil. The colours are varied and rewarding.

Crocosmia are tough gladiola-type bulbs with red or orange flowers. They are a freely spreading, hardy bulb-like plant that will naturalize readily. I have several clumps that need a new home, if you are interested. They are orange and very robust. Call 250-557-2002 to set up a date… or watch the top of my driveway for freebies!

Begin your Christmas plans by checking your last years’ Amarylis (Hippeastrum). If the bulb is firm, thick and pregnant-looking, place it in a dark cool spot for about four weeks or until it begins to grow.

However, if the bulb is spongy and has layers and layers of dry leaves with not much under them, the bulb has not replenished enough to bloom, although it will leaf weakly. I recommend discarding the worn out bulb with a little pat of thanks and purchasing a new one.

Christmas cactus needs to have the water stopped, and place them in a dark cool location, (where they will not freeze) for four weeks. I will talk about potting them up next time for great winter blooms.

Christmas plants… that’s exciting!

Just Posted

This week in photos | The spirit of giving comes to Haida Gwaii

Masset Lions Telethon, Queen Charlotte’s annual craft fair, Fields store coming along in Skidegate

Snowfall warning continues for parts of B.C.’s Interior

First significant snowfall of the season prompts Environment Canada warning

Northwest B.C. wildlife shelter rescues particularly tiny bear cub

Shelter co-founder says the cub weighs less than a third of what it should at this time of year

Masset residents receiving extra incentive to get home safe this holiday season

Masset RCMP, B.C. Liquor Store and local elementary schools team up to curb drinking and driving

Former Burns Lake mayor gets two years for sexual assaults against minors

Banned from taking work involving young people for five years

VIDEO: SNL skewers Trudeau’s mockery of Trump in high school cafeteria sketch

The three world leaders won’t let Trump sit at the cool kids’ table

B.C. universities post $340 million worth of surpluses thanks to international student tuition

Students call for spending as international enrolment produces huge surpluses at many universities

Conservatives urge Morneau to deliver ‘urgent’ fall economic update

Morneau says the first thing the Liberals plan to do is bring in their promised tax cut for the middle class

INFOGRAPHIC: How much money did your local university or college make last year?

B.C. university and colleges posted a combined $340 million surplus in 2018/19

B.C. creates $8.5M organization to improve safety for health care workers

Group will bring together unions, province, health care organizations

Kovrig clings to humour as ‘two Michaels’ near one year in Chinese prison

Their detention is widely viewed as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Chinese high-tech scion Meng Wanzhou

B.C. VIEWS: An engine that hums right along

First Nations are leading a new surge of investment in B.C.

Brain injury from domestic abuse a ‘public health crisis,’ says B.C. researcher

Nearly 80% of the domestic violence victims who reported to police last year were women

Most Read