After a long winter of cold weather, snow, wind and no flowers in the gardens, I look to three small, inexpensive and very hardy spring flowering bulbs to cheer me up. This threesome, made up of the Scilla S. siberica (Siberian squill), Chionodoxia (glory-of-the-snow), and the Muscari (grape hyacinth) is your answer.
These three bulbs are guaranteed to relieve all symptoms of cabin fever at the first sighting of flowers in your garden. All you have to do is plan, like getting a flu shot for winter colds, to plant these bulbs now.
All three bulbs are left uneaten by rodents and will grow in sun or part
shade. Best of all, these three types of bulbs will multiply in your flower garden,
rock gardens, in wild flower gardens or even in your lawn. If you have a sloping
bank, plant them near the top this fall and watch them reseed gradually all the
way to the bottom of the slope, like water running down the hill--but it's flowers.
Think about this, flowers growing in your yard starting in February or early
The first to bloom is Scilla siberica or squill, native to Russia and the mountains of Turkey.
These plants grow naturally in a soil among rocks, scrub and woods, so just imagine how well they will grow in your garden that has good soil to grow.
The flowers grow on spikes 4 to 6 inches tall, and each spike produces 3 to 5 bell shaped, nodding, bright blue flowers about 1/2 inch across.
The flowers face down, so you are looking at the top of the flower that develops in a cluster of deep green foliage that is one inch wide and 4 to 6 inches tall.
Each flower has a deep bright blue line running down the center of the top of the petal for extra color.
When the wind blows, you can almost hear them ring the arrival of spring.
Larger nurseries or bulb catalogs will have white, pink, lavender or purple varieties available, but the blue is the most popular and found everywhere.
Flowering time is February to April.
The second to bloom is the Chionodoxia or Glory of the Snow.
Native to the open mountainside and forest of Crete, Turkey and Cyprus, it is related to the Scilla.
The flowers develop on stems 4 to 6 inches tall; each stem can produce 7 to 10 star shaped, upward facing pale blue flowers.
The flowers contain six petals that grow to one inch across, and the tip on the petals bends over to show off the center of the bloom and a white trumpet-like center.
Unlike the squill, which grows on stiff stems, these stems are soft and the flowers are loose, making the clump of flowers look like a bouquet in the garden.
The deep green straplike foliage grows 1/2 inch wide and 4 to 6 inches tall.
The foliage will die back as soon as the flowers fade, unlike sqill, which
will last for several weeks after the bloom.
White, pink, and deep blue are available
in bulb catalogs.
Chionodoxia are more showy than the squills but the squills
flower in colder and more stormy weather conditions.
Flowering time February
The third to flower is Muscari or grape hyacinth.
It is a native plant of the Mediterranean to South Asia.
This spring-flowering bulb is a miniature of the giant Dutch hyacinth that we all love for its beauty and fragrance.
The grape hyacinth gets its Latin name "Muscari" because of a slight scent of musk to the flowers.
The flower stem will grow 4 to 8 inches tall, and this single strong stem will bear 30 or more small bell-like flowers 1/4 of an inch each in diameter.
The tiny bells are arranged around the stem in the shape of a poker.
The flower is medium blue with a white edge at the bottom of the bell.
The foliage of the grape hyacinth is deep green, 1/2 inch wide, and will grow 6 to 9 inches tall.
The flower clump is very stiff looking compared to its two counterparts but it will spread much faster in the garden and is perfect for wildflower gardens, rock gardens or naturalizing under tall trees.
White grape hyacinths are readily available at most garden centers, but they do not spread as fast and grow shorter.
Flowers time is from March to early May.
The flowers of all three of these spring-flowering bulbs can be cut for a short vase for a small-scale flower arrangement.
All should be planted 3 to 4 inches deep in a soil that is well drained, and conditioned with compost.
Plant 3 to 5 bulbs together for the best color and show.
Use Bulb-Tone fertilizer when planting and reapply in the spring to help make viable seed and more plants.
If planting under trees, deciduous types are best because of early sunlight in the spring due to the absence of foliage.
When planting under evergreens be sure the bulbs are facing south and out of heavy shade.
If planted in the lawn do not mow lawn until foliage begins to turn brown--and never use a lawn weed killer in that area.
Early honeybees love these flowers for their pollen and nectar.
In addition, insect and disease problems are seldom found.
This fall, plant all three of these bulbs for continuous color from February until May, you will enjoy the arrival of spring more than ever!
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