Barbara: This is the post that was supposed to appear last week, but I was rushing around prepping my garden, laying drip lines, and packing to fly to Providence (and then travel on the ferry to Block Island). Something had to give and it was last week’s post.
It feels a little strange to be sitting on our porch in New England writing about planting spring bulbs in Southern California, but here goes.
A couple of weeks ago Mary Beth reminded us that it was time to start buying and planting your spring-flowering bulbs. This is true for Southern California’s gardeners as well. Although it’s not quite time to plant most bulbs, you should buy them now before the selection dwindles to leftovers.
Growing what I think of as “traditional” bulbs can be a little challenging in our Mediterranean climate. Some bulbs will need to be refrigerated to give them the chill hours they need to grow, but with careful selections we can grow a lot of the same bulbs as the rest of the country.
Daffodils will bloom, but they will probably need to be replaced every year or so and they won’t naturalize like they do in the rest of the country. An exception are the Tazetta hybrids which will naturalize. They are a bit smaller, but very fragrant and more heat tolerant than their larger relatives. Watsonia (a South African relative of gladioli) and freesia will do well too.
Tulips definitely need to be replaced yearly. However, species tulips (wild tulips) will multiply and come back every year and you can plant these as soon as you get them.
Anemones, hyacinths, ranunculus and Dutch Irises will do well provided you keep them cool and dry until planting time in late fall. In the coastal regions crocuses don’t do well, though they may be fine inland.
This is just a short list of bulbs that are good for our zones. As you do your buying check out bulbs that bloom in every garden season. Also, be sure to follow the directions from the grower regarding chill and planting times, as well as planting depths.
Keep in mind that in gardening some rules are made to be broken. This is true with bulbs. Even though I just told you that daffodils need to be replaced every year, in my garden they reappeared for a few years although there were less of them as time went on. Every garden has micro climates that will put the lie to the rules. Be brave and experiment.