The bulbs which perennalize? naturalize?

Jane McGary
Thu, 30 Sep 2010 08:50:25 PDT
"Fierycloud" in Taiwan wrote:
>I always have a question that which commercial available varieties 
>and species would perennialize in which climate zone, but I just 
>can't find a comprehensive information.
>Only some web-shop would marked some of their bulbs as vigor, 
>perennializing and naturalizing for the location where the shops are.

I think it's not possible to predict this based only on climate. Many 
other factors affect how a bulbous plant can perennialize in one spot 
or another, including drainage, and especially the presence of 
predators and diseases. For example, some people in my own area say 
they cannot grow Narcissus because they always die. This may be 
caused by bulb fly, or perhaps by bad drainage. Yet my daffodils do 
well, and I hope they will also do well in my new garden. It has bad 
soil (too much clay), but I'll improve it before I plant anything, 
and most of the garden slopes. Some books will tell you that 
hyacinths are suitable only for annual bedding, but my old garden has 
hyacinths that have flowered in place for 20 years. Some bearded 
irises, particularly recent cultivars, do not perennialize 
effectively, but others, especially the oldest kinds, will take over 
an area even in competition with other plants (something most new 
cultivars can't tolerate). On the other hand, the soil and climate in 
the old garden are very suitable for crocuses, but there are so many 
voles there that I could never keep any except in turf, where in fact 
they self-sow (this is how many crocuses grow in nature). There are 
no voles at my new place, but there are introduced eastern American 
squirrels, which I'll have to control if I want crocuses outside the 
bulb house.

In summary, it would be difficult for me to say what bulbs, other 
than Colchicum, "perennialize" in my own area, and it would be even 
more difficult for vendors to say, because most of them offer stock 
that's grown under very artificial conditions and never allowed to 
perennialize. The only advice I can offer is one of the best pieces 
of advice ever given to me: "Try everything."

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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