The bulbs which perennialize

Lee Poulsen
Thu, 30 Sep 2010 15:05:26 PDT
I think Jim W. is suggesting that what Andrew is describing for  
Kathy's climate zone be done in all climate zones.

And I think his suggestion about the roadsides and esp. old homesteads  
is the perfect starting point since bulbs that have perennialized in  
those locations have withstood the test of a very long time in many  

A prime example that I wished I'd known when I was young and planting  
things all over my parents' yard in Austin, Texas was tulips. All the  
local sources back then, as well as the County Agricult. Extension  
Agent, consistently preached that there were no, as in zero, tulips  
that would perennialize there. A few years after leaving home I  
discovered that there were a few species tulips that would and did  
perennialized in that type of climate. I ordered some of each and sent  
some to my mom and sister to plant there and they have done well.  
However, none of them are large nor as colorful as the Dutch tulips  
that are treated as annuals in Austin. Then someone from near Austin,  
I think on this list, a number of years ago traded bulbs with me.  
Among them was a tulip I hadn't heard of before. They are apparently  
pretty rare and I only got one to start with. The first time it  
bloomed for me, it blew me away because it was much larger than T.  
clusiana etc. and was a bright deep red with a black splotch at the  
center. It was gorgeous. But he didn't tell me the species. Now I find  
it on Chris Wiesenger's Southern Bulb Co. website <… 
 >. It is supposed to be Tulipa praecox. I have the excellent book  
"Tulips: Species and Hybrids for the Gardener" and while it describes  
this species, there was no indication nor any hints to me that might  
point towards it being such a good bulb for sunbelt climates. I've  
been growing it in a pot in inland southern California where we get  
even less winter chill than Austin and it not only blooms every year,  
but is multiplying as well!

I keep wondering what would happen if someone started hybridizing  
amongst the few but several tulip species that do perennialize in the  
sunbelt, what kinds of wonderful hybrids might start appearing. But  
that would do great in the South. After all, isn't that what  
originally happened with the various original tulip species the  
Europeans started out with several centuries ago?

Something like what Jim W. suggested has been done with daffodils in  
Florida ending up in another excellent book: "DAFFODILS IN FLORIDA: A  
Field Guide to the Coastal South". I suspect there are many other  
bulbs that almost no one, except for people on lists like these, or in  
old homesteads, are growing.

--Lee Poulsen
Pasadena, California, USA - USDA Zone 10a

On Sep 30, 2010, at 12:18 PM, AW wrote:

> What Kathy is requesting is a little different from what Jim is  
> suggesting.
> She needs 300 bulbs that will work for her, not 300 that will work in
> different parts of the world without reference as to whether they  
> would work
> in her part of it, namely the 8-9 Climate Zones, as I understand the
> request. Perhaps 30 members in that area could send in the 10 most  
> perennial
> species?
> Andrew
> San Diego (Zone ~10)
> These need not be in each
> member's own garden, but bulbs from the roadside or old homesteads.  
> These
> may not be the 'best'.
> 		Best		Jim W.

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