Bulbs in Tucson - Knowledgebase Question

Tucson, AZ
Question by dohara
May 2, 2000
My Mom recently moved from Maine to Tucson. We used to have beautiful bulb gardens in Maine and would like to re-create that type of garden here in the desert. I know that we are zone 9 and also know that some bulbs need to be dug up and pre-chilled. I don't think tulips would do particularly well here. The particular bulbs/tubers that my Mom would like to plant are: ranunculas, cannas, calla lilies, Hybrid day lilies, dutch iris and dahlia. Do these need need to be dug up and pre-chilled every year and would we need to plant these at a specific spring/winter time.


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Answer from NGA
May 2, 2000

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You're right, tulips don't do well here, nor do dahlias. Don't waste your money. Most bulbs will perform better with morning sun and protection from the hot afternoon sun. Cannas can be left in the ground year around, but they look a little "ragged" during the summer. Canna can be planted in the spring. Ranuncula and dutch iris should be planted in the fall (Oct-Nov) for spring bloom. Calla are starting to show up here in the nurseries, but they are a bit marginal for the low desert for my tastes. Definately they would need a protected location. Daylilies also need protection from hot afternoon and summer sun. Crinum would give you a similar bloom, but they seem to do better here. Again, they like protection. Another terrific bulb plant that you might want to consider is rain lily (Zephyranthes). It grows without fuss and will take sun. Bearded iris also do extremely well. Most bulbs are left in the ground here. Good luck!

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