Undependable Garden Bulbs

totototo@telus.net totototo@telus.net
Sun, 04 May 2008 21:40:56 PDT
Interesting to read of the dependables, but what about the 
undependables, those bulbs that you would expect to be good 
performers but turn out to be duds?

Plant performance is critically dependant on the details of the 
environment, of course: soil, pH, drainage, altitude, latitude, 
aspect, climate, geography, precipitation & its distribution 
throughout the year etc. As a result, plants considered easy in some 
places are quite difficult in others.

In my own garden, the following have been surprisingly bad performers:

1. Leucojum vernum. I've planted hundreds of bulbs of this over the 
years, in any number of different locations, and only in one small 
location do they survive and grow. When I say small, I mean an area 
that may be no more than a few feet each way.

No, this isn't because the bulbs I've planted have been terminally 
dessicated. I know enough to soak L. vernum bulbs until they are 
plump and firm before planting, and those planted usually came up 
just fine the first spring, but then disappeared.

It's a mystery: I have no idea what is special about the one and only 
spot. Perhaps there's simply too much root competition from nearby 
trees everywhere else I've tried them. In Janis Ruksans book, there's 
a photo of L. vernum growing wild somewhere in eastern Europe; the 
site is a dead flat meadow with nary a tree in sight.

2. Tricyrtis. They have never survived more than two seasons. 
Probably due to the distaste of Japanese plants for a dry-summer, wet-
winter climate plus the fact that I live in a former marsh which gets 
soaking wet, and stays that way, once the winter rains have set in in 

3. The double form of Galanthus nivalis. It hates me.

4. Most daffodils. The narcissus fly cleans these out in a hurry, 
some types much faster than others, though some cultivars survive and 
flower well year after year. The beautiful triandrus hybrids such as 
Libery Bells last only one season and then they're gone, not even 
grassy leaves to mark the site of their demise.

Rodger Whitlock
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Maritime Zone 8, a cool Mediterranean climate

on beautiful Vancouver Island

More information about the pbs mailing list