How to Plant Daffodils for EARLY Spring Color

2014-03-20 narcissus

Narcissus, first day of Spring, 2014

Last July, I dug several clumps of daffodil bulbs — narcissus x golden Dawn (pictured left) to save for pass along plants as well as to re-plant in a few new areas. This year, I decided a few need to accent a corner rose bed. Late December to Early January is a great time to plants these bulbs.

While there are a number of varieties of Daffodils (or Narcissus), few tolerate the heat experienced in zone 8b Texas. I’ve had great luck with narcissus x golden Dawn growing, blooming and proliferating each year for at least the past 6 years. Other Narcissus varieties that grow in this area are; Narcissus jonquilla, Narcissus ‘Grand Primo’, and Narcissus x odorus. Continue reading

Oxblood Lilies Announce Fall is Eminent!

Oxblood Lilies Sept. 9, 2014; brilliant red amaryllis-like blooms

Oxblood Lilies

The arrival of the brilliant bright red oxblood lilies is always an invigorating sign — something very beautiful is blooming after the grueling Texas summer … AND … Fall weather is eminent (gone are the 100 degree days — although I gladly admit that we did not actually reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit this summer–very, very unusual!)

Nestled in an area overtaken by the purple verbena, these gems are nearly forgotten each year … until Fall approaches … then they are hard to ignore!

These flowers are from an heirloom bulb that is easily grown and passed along; Mine came from a good friend, and their arrival always invokes memories of a long history of friendship!

“Oxblood lilies” (Rhodophiala bifida) have a miniature amaryllis appearance; the stalks push up and produce the beautiful red blooms and the remaining foliage appears later — to gather the energy needed for survival over winter. They thrive in full sun and loose, well-drained soil — but are tolerant of a variety of conditions. I moved them from an area with morning shade and full afternoon sun to an area with morning sun that fades to shade in the late afternoon and the flowers have emerged about 1.5 times larger this year.

Now, I’m waiting for the rest of them to announce that the Texas summer heat is nearly over!

Four O’Clocks: The Marvel of Peru!

The four o’clock plants are an heirloom once grown by Thomas Jeffersen in the garden at Monticello — he referred to them as “the fragrant marvel of Peru”. After years of absence from my gardens, these gems are back — but only if I can convince someone to share seeds or plants with me.

So, I have 3 colors; pink (from my Mother — seeds and plants), Yellow (from one of my sisters — both seeds and plants) and red seeds from one of my In-Laws.

Despite the rise in temperatures to the upper 90’s, and a decrease in rainfall at the same time, these plants have begun to flower … and do so dependable each day.

Four O’Clocks are so named because the flowers open in the evening, remain open over night, then fade in the light of morning. Each bloom lasts a single day. The yellow and pink blooms last well into mid morning while the red blooms do not last long enough to be seen in morning’s light.

The Red flowers open red with wavy, red petals that reveal a magenta star when fully opened (pictured above). These were grown from seed and I’ll be looking for more from them (although I have to admit that I reserved some of the gift seeds — just in case these don’t make!)

In areas with loose soils and moderate temperatures, the plants create a large bulb, some up to the size of footballs (especially in the Yoakum, Texas area where they have occasionally overtaken volumes of pasture land!). When the bulbs do not form, an abundance of seed production ensures new flowers in the Spring. I collect the seeds, label and date them, then add them to my seed collection for the next year.

It’s after 4:00 now, local time. Soon, the flowers will be opening and revealing the fragrance once noted by Thomas Jefferson!