Blooming Time for Bulbs

All over our area, you will find blooms. Our state bluebonnets are lovely, but not too common in the urban areas. Narcissus, daffodils and tulips are much more common. They are fun bulbs, but take planning ahead since we have to plant them in the fall in North Texas. Most years, we don’t have the long cold seasons a great many bulbs require. There are several varieties that do well and naturalize here (come back stronger each year). White Flower Farms has a Web site listing varieties, the zones in which they do well and if they will naturalize. Ice Follies are one variety of narcissus that is commonly available in local outlets.

As for tulips, I have been known to put them in the same boat as azaleas — plant once, enjoy and throw away — but I’m learning every day. Through a Master Gardener class on bulbs, I discovered what is called the “Species” variety of tulips. These varieties are originally from the Mediterranean, Asia Minor and the Caucasus. They are not planted quite as deep as others, and they come up year after year. They aren’t as large as many tulips, but do well in our hardy clay soils. I am ordering them for planting this fall and will let you know how they do! If you order, be sure and check the zone. We are in zone 7b, but I usually look for zone 8 to be on the safe side.

Our other big bloomer is the iris. There are lots of them around, and they are all beautiful. You can make your own iris garden any time of year. Unlike tulips and narcissus, they aren’t particular about when or where they are planted. Just give them a chance, and they’ll make it. They do better in a mostly sunny area and planted shallowly so the rhizome has some sun. In planning a bed, watch the amount of shade, as well as the drainage. Irises can’t take wet feet happily. Put the short ones in front with the taller ones staggered back, and be ready to thin them every three to four years. These are great plants to share.

You really can’t plant much on top of irises, but narcissus and daffodils are planted deeply enough to accommodate shallow rooted plants. Try some. They will cover fading foliage as the weather heats up.

Enjoy the spring blooms and spot out places to plant your bulbs next fall. For other questions, call the Master Gardeners at the Ellis County AgriLife office at (972) 825-5175.

Written by Nancy Fenton, Ellis County Master Gardener.