Small white flowers from bulbs

Every year I wait eagerly for the small bulbs to emerge in the garden. They may not be as showy as the large daffodils and tulips, or as highly scented as the hyacinths, but these reliable little bulbs burst forth into the early spring with a splash of color unmatched by any of their larger brethren. Here are two of my favorite early bloomers.

Chionodoxa (Glory of the Snow)

This is one of the easiest of small bulbs to grow. Simply plant the bottom of the bulb about 2 inches deep and each bulb about 4 inches apart. It does best in fertile humus or organically rich soil in full sun, although it will happily bloom and spread when planted under deciduous shrubs where competition for moisture from the shrub’s roots will keep the bulbs dry over the summer. They are also particularly well suited for growing in containers or in rock gardens.

Over time, Chionodoxa will self sow and form a carpet of spring color. If you allow the flower heads to go to seed, you can scatter the seeds throughout your garden after the seed heads dry. The next spring, you’ll be rewarded with a growing blanket of new white, pink, and blue flowering bulbs. Of course, you can also propagate this bulb by separating the small bulbous offsets and replanting them elsewhere.

Given the beauty and ease of cultivation of Chionodoxa, it’s surprising that these bulbs can be difficult to find in local garden centers. Try buying them online to get them in quantity at a reasonable price.

Ipheion uniflorum (Spring Starflower)

Ipheion uniflorum is a member of the lily family and while it is a South American native, it is surprisingly hardy – it can be grown throughout most of the Northeast, being normally hardy into USDA zone 5.

This beautiful little bulb does well in rock gardens and at the front of the bed where it can be easily seen. It likes full sun and well-drained soil (heavy clay or wet winter soil is a sure-fire way to kill it). Plant the base of the bulb about 3 inches deep and set them approximately 2 inches apart to ensure a lush carpet of blooms.

Ipheion uniflorum reaches about 5″-7″ in height, with star-shaped flowers in shades of blue-violet, pink-blue, and white. It blooms in early to mid-spring.

As with grape hyacinth, the leaves of Ipheion uniflorum often emerge in the fall. Although the leaves may freeze over the winter and look a little tattered, the flowers won’t be harmed and you can cut back the foliage in early spring to tidy things up.


Perils of Publication (1 of 3)

2007-03-13 09:48:54 by OldMack

Perils of Publication
By Ron McKinney © 3/13/2007 11:04 AM
The galleys came in the snail mail two days ago. We’re still in the midst of Spring Cleaning, so the large white envelope from the publisher was buried under a ton of silk flowers—those flowers had been soaking in our bathtub for several days and changes of water to remove the accumulated dust and cigarette tars from their stems leaves and petals; quite frankly they look as beautiful as they did when shipped from the small village in the Peoples Republic of China where the locals used to hand-make burp gun parts and assemble mortar shells for their young, male volunteers trying to kill me in Korea; Flower power---silk flowers on plastic stems may be dry today and stowed away, and this dirty old man will replace...


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