THE NEW FREEDOM HEIRLOOM BULB SALE WILL BE HELD
SATURDAY-SUNDAY, OCTOBER 12-13, 2019
IN THE PARKINGLOT NEXT TO 60 EAST HIGH STREET,
NEW FREEDOM, PA.
THIS WILL BE COLUMBUS DAY WEEKEND,
NOT THE WEEKEND FOLLOWING COLUMBUS DAY.
ALL OF THE BULBS DISCUSSED IN THIS NEWSLETTER
ARE AVAILABLE ON OUR WEBSITE BY CLICKING ON THIS LINK:
FOR SPECIFIC BULBS, YOU CAN CLICK ON THE “BUY NOW” BUTTON LOCATED ON EACH PHOTO AND THAT BUTTON WILL TAKE YOU TO THE WEBPAGE WHICH DISCUSSES THAT BULB
To learn more about forcing bulbs in water
or soil watch our videos on YouTube.
Forcing Bulbs in Water
Forcing Bulbs in Pots
This year Harvesting History’s fall newsletter series is going to focus on spring flowering bulbs that are critter resistant and great plants for nourishing pollinators. In the last six newsletters, we discussed Rock Garden Irises (Iris reticulatas), Chionodoxas (Glory of the Snow), Galanthus (Snowdrops), Hyacinthoides (Bluebells), Species Tulips, Native American Bulbs, Alliums and Species Narcissus. In this newsletter, we are going to discuss three beautiful crocus’. Believe it or not one is actually deer resistant.
I know what some of you are thinking…. “Crocuses, ugh, they are so boring”. Yes, they are common, but no they are not boring. Yes, they basically come in3 colors – white, yellow and purple, but there are hundreds of shades of these three colors and few other spring bulbs produce the intensity of color that crocuses do. Only tulips can compete. Yes, you see them everywhere in the spring, but that is what makes them so special. They are spring!
Crocuses are some of the most versatile of spring bulbs. They can be grown in gardens, rock gardens, containers, forced in pots or forced in water. Only hyacinths and a few narcissus can compete with this versatility.
Crocus are members of the Iris family and are native to the Mediterranean and parts of Asia. They are among the oldest of the cultivated bulbs. The original crocus was a fall blooming type, Crocus sativus, grown for its saffron in Palestine during King Solomon’s time and used as an important commercial product by various ancient civilizations. Within the first few centuries of the new millennium, the Romans brought crocus to Britain, and by 1330, C.sativus was introduced into Essex via a commercial venture that made yellow dyes
The spring flowering Crocus varieties have never been cultivated for non-gardening purposes, but they have enjoyed enormous popularity as garden flowers. In fact, C. vernus is one of the bulbs credited with starting Holland’s bulb business. Crocus are so much beloved that they were among the first bulbs brought to North America by the earliest settlers. The large flowering crocus also known as “The Wild Crocus of the Alps” were discovered around 1875.
Crocus prefer a light, fertile, alkaline soil and good sunlight. Digging them up and dividing them every three years is highly recommended. They are good naturalizers and good for forcing.
Unfortunately, crocuses are not critter resistant. Some gardeners have reported that squirrels do not eat or “replant” any of the C. tommasinianus varieties. Growing the bulbs in containers on a deck or patio is sometimes your only choice these days. If you still have a critter problem, then force them in pots or water.
Crocuses do best when grown in full sun. They can take a little shade, but will not bloom as prolifically. The ideal environment provides the plants with full sun in the spring and well-drained soil that allows the corms to dry out during the summer. Crocus tommasinianus which we will discuss below is the only crocus that can tolerate damp areas.
Crocuses should be planted in groups. They show best in groups of 25 bulbs, but a group of ten bulbs will still be a presence in the spring garden. The bulbs should be planted close, no more than 3 inches apart and 5-7 inches deep. Don’t forget to add bone meal to the area where you are planting these bulbs.
The ‘Vernus’ crocuses are the original Wild Crocus of the Alps and the Pyrenees. They were introduced in 1765. Grand Maitre is one of the oldest and most vigorous crocuses available today. It was introduced in 1924. Each corm can produce up to 2-3 blossoms. The blossoms are dark lavender-violet. The style and stigma at the center of the blossom’s throat is a brilliant orange. For optimum effect, at least 10 corms should be planted together. They will naturalize quickly doubling in number each year and will need to be divided every 3-4 years.
The corms should be planted 5-7 inches deep and 2-3 inches apart. Don’t forget to add at least 1/4 cup bone meal to the area where the corms are to be planted. They can flourish in full sun to partial shade. Grand Maitre is hardy from Hardiness Zone 3-8.
All of the crocuses derived from C. flavus were the first yellow crocuses that European gardeners knew for more than 400 years. The plant is native to much of Europe. C. flavus Yellow Mammoth has a lovely fragrance when the blossoms are completely open in full sun. Each corm can produce up to 5 blossoms, but 2-3 blossoms is more normal. The blossoms are egg-yolk yellow. For optimum effect, at least 10 corms should be planted together. They will naturalize quickly, doubling in number each year and will need to be divided every 3-4 years.
The corms should be planted 5-7 inches deep and 2-3 inches apart. Don’t forget to add at least 1/4 cup bone meal to the area where the corms are to be planted. They can flourish in full sun to partial shade. Yellow Mammoth is hardy from Hardiness Zone 3-8.
This crocus is indigenous to Dalmatia which is a region of Croatia. It was collected in 1847 and made available to the public several years later. It is a small, somewhat wild looking, but very sturdy crocus. Unlike many crocus’, it does better in full sun. The blossoms are pinkish purple. They are the ‘pinkest’ of any crocus available. For optimum effect, at least 10 corms should be planted together. They will naturalize quickly doubling in number each year and will need to be divided every 3-4 years.
The corms should be planted 5-7 inches deep and 2-3 inches apart. Don’t forget to add at least 1/4 cup bone meal to the area where the corms are to be planted. They can flourish in full sun to partial shade. Crocus Tommasianus Roseus is hardy from Hardiness Zone 3-8.
Spring is just not spring without crocuses. Plant a simple 6-inch pot with 6-8 crocuses and force it for a late winter bouquet. It will gladden your heart and bring a smile to that scowl you have been harboring because of dealing withthe winter blues.
REMINDER ABOUT FORCING BULBS
If you are going to force bulbs in soil, then, for best results, place 4-8 bulbs in a 6 inch pot on top of 2 inches of soil, and cover the bulbs with soil leaving only the tips above the surface of the soil. Wrap the pot in a plastic bag and place the pot with the bulbs in the refrigerator for 12 weeks. At the end of the 12 weeks, remove the pot from the refrigerator, water, and place in a cool bright window. Keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged and the pot cool. The bulbs will bloom in about 4 weeks.
If you are going to force bulbs in water, you need to place the bulbs in the refrigerator (NOT THE FREEZER) for at least 12 weeks. When you remove the bulbs from the refrigerator, place them in a bulb vase or a bowl lined with pebbles. Add water to the base of the bulbs and place the vase/bowl in a cool, bright window. The bulb will produce blossoms in about 4 weeks. Only narcissus, hyacinths and crocus may be forced in water.
Don’t miss our Tuesday, October 8, 2019 newsletter on
“The Little Guys of the Garden”.
Celebrate your uniquely American horticultural heritage
Harvest Your History
Seed Your Future
on orders $50 and above