TOW: Bulbs with surprising hardiness

Jane McGary
Tue, 09 Sep 2003 13:33:39 PDT
Just off the top of my head, here are some bulbs (and other geophytes) that 
have done well in the garden here against expectations of their hardiness. 
My garden is nominally USDA Zone 7 (winter minimum zero Fahrenheit/minus 16 
C), but plants rated Zone 7 for the eastern part of North America rarely 
survive a normal winter here, with temperatures in the mid-teens F.

Scilla verna
Muscari muscarimi
Muscari macrocarpum
Iris unguicularis
Fritillaria persica
Narcissus triandrus
Crocus laevigatus
Crocus ochroleucus
Cyclamen graecum

I will be trying more this year, even some small Narcissus species.

In my bulb frames I grow many reputedly tender species, even though 
temperatures inside the frames can easily descend to the mid-20s F on cold 
nights. I've learned over the years that pushing the hardiness limit in 
this way causes the plants to appear much more in character, whereas in the 
solarium/greenhouse that is frost-free, they often elongate despite 
receiving as much light as in the frames, do not flower so well, and get 
pests and diseases. I have lost a few winter-growers from South Africa and 
North Africa in the frames, but quite a few plants from those areas 
flourish there, even some with fleshy winter foliage like Asphodelus acaulis.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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