ground cover for summer dormant bulbs

Jim McKenney
Wed, 27 Jul 2005 05:37:44 PDT
Arnold, I've pondered this question of what to grow with Colchicum for
years. There really isn't much of a window available here: the Colchcium
occupy the space from the time the flowers appear until the foliage dies.
They are not above ground for perhaps two and a half months. 

Any cover for Colchicum has to be small enough to allow the Colchicum
flowers to be seen. It also has to be able to survive amongst the Colchicum

All things considered, my favorite has been Ceratostigma plumbaginoides. It
gets off to a relatively late start and so does not provide much if any
competition to the Colchicum. The color of the flowers compliments the
Colchicum flower colors. The Ceratostigma forms a nice mat of foliage which
keeps most weeds down and prevents mud splashing. This is a good choice for
the big garden Colchicum.

If you like sweet alyssum, and I do very much, the Colchicum patch is a good
place for it. It's low enough compliment the Colchicum flowers, and its
scent is a plus. 

For the smaller, late-winter bloomers, you're on your own. In my experience,
these rot if they are moist enough to support the growth of companion plants
during their summer dormancy. Go inorganic there: use attractive stone chips
or pea gravel or bird grit. 

One more thing, Arnold: you mentioned using Meconopsis cambrica as a ground
cover. Does it behave as an annual for your or as a perennial? I've had
trouble keeping the orange-flowered forms of Meconopsis cambrica here. 

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where the temperature got
down to about 75 degrees F last night.

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