bulbs are ANNUALS here?!?!

bosewichte(7a/8b)September 5, 2013

November will mark my first full year as an upstate SC resident. Since we live on a wooded lot, I have definitely been going through flower withdrawal (I used to live in zone 5a and had a massive flower garden). I was planning to compensate by ordering a ton of spring-flowering bulbs this fall, so at least I'd have one season of color. I was reading online, though, that because of the warm winters, bulbs should be viewed as annuals. You just don't get repeat blooms because the winters aren't cold enough. Is this true?

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sara82lee(8a - SE Va)

I'm in southeast VA and I've never had that problem. I've got tulips, daffodils, hyacinth, and lots of summer flowering bulbs as well. They all come back for me.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 10:53AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

It depends on the particular bulbs, and the particular location where they will go. May I ask, what does 7a/8b mean?

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 11:20AM
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I am a little west of Greenville!

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 12:28PM
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sara82lee(8a - SE Va)

Is it 7b/8a? I know I used to be 7b, and they bumped me up to 8a a few years ago. Funny, it seems the same for me.

What bulbs are they saying are annuals? Or is it just general?

FWIW, I grew up in Ohio, and while living in a zone with much hotter summers has had some challenges, I've found that it's more than worth it for the perks. Longer growing season, more that can overwinter in the ground here than would ever survive the winter further north, and a lot of different kinds of plants that I've really enjoyed learning how to grow.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 1:18PM
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I am a little north of Greenville and have had no problems with bulbs. I have almost everything: daffodils, tulips, gladiolas, irises, hyacynths and grape hyacynths, Asiatic, Siberian, and Oriental lilies, dahlias, etc. Did lose some this year because of all the rain, one area did not allow it to run off so the ground has been wet for months.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 1:26PM
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Oh, good! I just didn't want to invest a lot of money and time for a 'one season' show.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 3:01PM
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Tulips are the ones that don't do well. Daffodils are perfectly fine. Ordinary tulips often don't get enough chill time and won't reliably bloom in subsequent years. I've heard that "species tulips" do better.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 8:26PM
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Tulips are treated as annuals here. The weather is not cold enough and the voles love them.
Daffodils are finicky. Newer varieties do not colonize as well as the heirloom varieties. The heirloom varieties can live for years.
I am in upstate SC.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 10:46PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Tulips, hyacinth, and most crocus require a cold dormant period in order to return predictably. Contact your local extension office for helpful regional advice about where you fit in. Investigate the "species tulips " that esh mentioned.

As for flowers (annuals and perennials), there's no reason why you can't have a huge variety where you now live. Just know your environment and select your plants accordingly.

You may not be able to grow everything that you're used to.....but there's a huge variety of other wonderful plants ready to bloom for you from "quarter til spring " to "fall thirty ".

That you feel like you're 'in flower withdrawal ' tells me that you haven't acclimated to your new environment yet. You're a transplant. Take some time to learn about what will do well for you in SC. Visit some good LOCALLY owned garden centers to pick some experienced brains. Avoid the big box stores where good information will not be available.

Your area of SC is a gardener's delight.

This post was edited by rhizo_1 on Sat, Sep 7, 13 at 8:22

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 8:17AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

I'm a transplant from 5b central OH to 8b, extreme southern AL. You'll get used to it, eventually, and be confounded and delighted - constantly! I used to think of bulbs as an ephemeral spring thing, but down here, there are so many, you can get pretty much year-round blooming just from bulb plants if you find enough different ones. In trade for tulips one can have Amaryllis, Lycoris radiata, Oxalis crassipes, Cannas, Crinum, Zephyrahthes, Hymenocallis, Gladiolus, Dahlia, Caladium, Cucurma, and others I can't think of this early in the morning. (Not all of these may be hardy where you are, but I don't know where the line is drawn for each. Should be easy to find for those you like.)

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 9:07AM
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zzackey(8b GA)

The local Agricultural center helped me alot! We moved from New Jersey to Florida. What a change that was. I live in SE GA now. I can grow Easter lilies, canna lillies, daffodils and amaryllis with no problems. Some winters we get down to 9 degrees.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 4:15PM
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Learn to live without them! There are tons of other things that grow in the south...even as perennials...that won't thrive further north. How about hibiscus? Gorgeous flowers and if you're far enough south, they bloom the year round. Blooming gingers, canna lilies...a whole slew of tropical and semi-tropical plants. Ya go with the flow.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 10:51AM
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plan9fromposhmadison(8A Madison Mississippi)

DUTCH bulbs generally will not repeat (well) in the South. My Grandmother in the Mississippi Delta, along with the women in her garden club, bought Dutch bulbs, every year, from the Temple Sisterhood. Over the years, they learned that a few of the hyacinths would persist (on really good soil, and with the right filtered light) for quite some time. Dutch Iris multiplied like crazy. Occasionally, a tulip would bloom for a second year. Some daffodil cultivars would naturalize, and some would not. Bearded Iris mostly did pretty well.

But, except for Tulips, there exist robust alternatives to the fancy Dutch bulbs. Buy from a small Southern grower, and you will be amazed how well these proven favorites will do. OF COURSE bulbs which thrive in The Netherlands and Michigan and Washington State are going to wither in our heat!!!! And many of the fancy ones are dependent upon intensive cultivation. They will go into decline, if not actively and expertly cultivated - regardless of locale. They are Fertilizer Hogs, for starters.

But you will be amazed what has been thriving in the South, for centuries. Instead of the finicky lilies in the catalogues, grow Lilium Formosanum, Tiger Lilies, Regal Lilies, Easter Lilies... Or plant Crinums, which adore our heat. My Grandmother had wonderful Regal Lilies, every year. Our spoiled cousins, who have never lifted a finger in the garden, have thriving stands of Tiger Lilies which have been blooming, virtually undisturbed (and unaided), since the Sixties.

Here in Madison, regular fancy Gladiolus (the kind you don't expect to return - you know, the kind you buy in a little box of bulbs at the grocery store...) sometimes become permanent - all depends on the genes in that particular cultivar. I see them popping-up in the oddest places, all over town. Possibly, since the prevailing winds pass over a large lake before reaching Madison, our local climate is unusually salubrious. More reliably foolproof would be Gladiolus Byzantium (a wonderful magenta color).

And Amaryllis (including the fancy new ones) tend to multiply and thrive around here, too. All depends on the microclimate in the spot where they're planted.

Then, there are the Crocosmia, which can, over many years, fill whole beds with their beautiful foliage. The bloom colors range between vermillion and red-gold.

The old fashioned daffodils/narcissus that I remember thriving are: 'Butter & Eggs', 'Thalia', 'King Alfred', 'Soleil D'or', 'Paper Whites', 'Mt. Hood'... And, of course, there are the Snowdrops (there's a tallish cultivar that thrives in the South) (NEWS FLASH! I looked it up, and instead of 'Snow Drops', we have 'Snow BELLS', down here. They do really, really well, too.)

There are many species of Camassia that provide foliage all winter, plus delicate blue or white blooms. Also great for winter foliage is the red 'Spider Lily' (a type of Lycoris). My Great-Grandmother had Paperwhite Narcissus planted near a red Camellia. I can still close my eyes and BE at her house, in winter, so happy looking at the Camellia and smelling the Paperwhites. Such a perfect memory.

'Naked Ladies' (a pink Lycoris whose blooms pop up before the flowers) is reliable across a wide swath of the Deep South. And then, there's the fabled 'Golden Lycoris', a Spider Lily I've only seen blooming once - on a well-drained Bayou-side lawn in Madisonville, Louisiana. It was glorious. Definitely worth a try.

There are several close relatives of Hyacinths which will naturalize down here.

And there are both native and imported Bearded Iris whose blue-grey foliage is a welcome sight in winter (at least here in Madison, where venerable plantings of them persist beside the oldest houses in town).

STOP considering fancy new hybrids from Michigan and Holland (and Connecticut), and start buying reliable old-fashioned favorites from small growers in our region!!!! That way, your chances of success are infinitely greater.

Someone could write a book about what bulbs WILL grow down this way. Maybe someone has, already.

This post was edited by plan9fromposhmadison on Sat, Nov 30, 13 at 2:50

    Bookmark   November 30, 2013 at 2:06AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Bletilla striata hasn't been mentioned here yet.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 3:10PM
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for your spring bulbs, stick with the narcissus and daffs.
for late summer, one that has not been mentioned that i grow is acidanthera (recently moved into the gladiolus clan from what i have read).
it would not have been hardy where you moved from but is hardy in zones 7-10. they grow to about 1.5' tall with gladiolus-like foliage but the flowers are white w/purple throat, nodding on stems and very fragrant!
gave some to sis in florence (zone 7b) and they returned for her (in container).

    Bookmark   December 10, 2013 at 4:56PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

I noticed some green in the dormant grass next door, empty lot. Sure enough Lycoris radiata someone had planted in a row, who knows how long ago, being mowed at least the 7 years I've lived here. I just finished digging up about 200 bulbs, as well as about 100 Alliums of unknown species, a handful of daffs, and a lone Gladiolus. I'm still finding Lycoris in our yard though I thought I got them all last year.

Time to inspect for bulbs in the grass!

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 5:40PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

This is no joke, I just found about 500 more bulbs in a ring in the grass next door (no house there, it burned & was torn down, empty lot is for sale.) Probably originally planted around a long-gone tree. Very cool!

To be gardening on New Years' eve eve is still an awesome novelty to this geographically adjusted person!

Lycoris radiata, tucked in the shed for the night, I'm out of oomph for today & it got too gloomy to see what I was doing. The smaller red bucket is at least a 1-gallon.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 4:54PM
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sara82lee(8a - SE Va)

Jeff, I wanted to chime in on the acidanthera, because I have been so delighted with mine! In my experience, they've done very well for me with no special treatment and the flowers lasted a lot longer than my other summer bulbs. I think that's an awesome recommendation!

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 5:05PM
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madabouteu(8A - central Alabama)

Someone HAS written a book about gardening with bulbs in the south - Scott Ogden. I can't think of the exact title, maybe "Garden Bulbs For The South" It came out about 5 years ago. There are a number of daffodils that will do fine here, and even some species tulips. Not all grape hyacinths are supposed to do well here, but the species neglectum is supposed to be good and armenicum not.


    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 6:38PM
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