The Q&A Archives: Bulbs

Question: I am from the north and love the early spring flowers we had in the area. Are there any bulbs that I can plant in SW Florida?

Answer: Many of the common bulbs of northern states such as tulips, crocus, daffodils, hyacinths often flower poorly or not at all, even in northern Florida.

This does not mean that Florida gardeners have to forgo the pleasure of incorporating perennial flowering bulbs into their landscapes. As with many aspects of Florida landscaping, transplanted gardeners have to become familiar with new plants and learn new gardening techniques. Florida's climate is favorable for growing many tropical and subtropical bulbous plants. One of the first to flower are the bell shaped red, pink and white amaryllis which produce some of our earliest spring blossoms. Amaryllis produce tall multi-flowered stalks before their leaves emerge. These can be planted en masse in beds or scattered throughout the landscape to provide more than a month of springtime color.

Next up are the daylilies which begin to brighten the landscape from about April. The yellow varieties are normally the first to flower and are followed over several months by varieties in shades of orange, pink, red, and bronze. Be sure to obtain varieties especially selected and bred for Florida to avoid disappointment.

The diminutive rain lilies emerge from dormancy with the onset of the rainy season. These tiny jewels are reminiscent of crocuses and come with white, pink and rose colored blooms. Rain lilies are members of the amaryllis family and can be scattered across the landscape in naturalized arrangements, or planted in beds or borders.

Exotic looking crinum lilies announce the summer season with fragrant trumpet shaped blossoms that resemble amaryllis. There are many hybrids among the over 100 known species of crinum lilies that produce a range of colors from white to deep rose including striped varieties.

Other easy to grow bulbs and bulb-like plants springing from corms, tubers and rhizomes include blood lily, caladiums, canna lily, elephant ears, gingers, gladiolus, gloriosa lily, society garlic and the native spider and swamp lilies.

Best wishes with your colorful garden!

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