Gardeners in the South have a unique dilemma when it comes to planting tulips, daffodils and other spring-flowering bulbs. Unlike the gardens of our Northern friends, most of the popular spring flowers will not 'naturalize' - or return year after year - for us, as they require a longer chilling time in the ground. So, we've compiled a list of tried-and-true types which have proven to do well in Southern gardens and will come back for many years. These are called "Heritage" or "Heirloom" bulbs for the south.
Of course, North Texas gardeners are free to plant any type of bulb in their landscape but should be prepared for the more delicate types to perform as annuals.
RECOMMENDED SPRING FLOWERING BULBS THAT NATURALIZE IN NORTH TEXAS
SPRING BULB Q&A
Q. WHEN SHOULD SPRING-FLOWERING BULBS BE PLANTED?A. Bulbs should be planted as soon after purchase as possible. Heirloom and historic bulbs recommended for southern climates can be planted from September through December.Q. HOW CAN YOU JUDGE THE QUALITY OF BULBS?A. In general, they should be heavy and solid. A soft bulb may indicate internal rot. They should be free of bruises and cuts - these are ready sites for disease and insect invasion. Inspect the bulbs closely for signs of disease or insects. You will avoid many problems by planting clean, high-quality bulbs.Q. HOW MUCH LIGHT DO SPRING-FLOWERING BULBS REQUIRE?A. Most spring-flowering bulbs do best in full sun or filtered light. Inadequate light tends to reduce the size or number of flowers and can even prevent flowering in some cases. Most spring-flowering bulbs lose their foliage by late spring or early summer, and therefore can often be grown successfully under deciduous trees. (By the time the trees leaf out, foliage on the bulbs is declining.) Light shade and cooler temperatures can prolong the length of time the plant is in flower and reduce fading.Q. WHAT ABOUT SOIL QUALITY?A. Most authorities recommend sandy loams for bulbs, but you also can find many examples of bulbs thriving in everything from pure sand to clay. The key to success as far as the soil is concerned is drainage. Most bulbs are highly intolerant of poor drainage. In the landscape, drainage can be improved by adding various soil amendments, installing drain lines or growing in raised beds. Clay soil is best amended with compost and expanded shale.Q. HOW DEEP SHOULD BULBS BE PLANTED?A. As a general rule, plant bulbs at about 3 times the height of the bulb in well amended soil and cover with a 2 inch layer of mulch.Q. WHAT IS THE PROPER SPACING FOR SPRING-FLOWERING BULBS?A. Space bulbs 2 to 3 times the width of the bulb. Smaller bulbs can be planted closer together and larger bulbs farther apart. The best landscape effect will be achieved by planting in mass groups or naturalized drifts.Q. WHEN DO SPRING-FLOWERING BULBS BLOOM?A. "Spring" is not a precise time, and may actually extend over a period of weeks and varying somewhat from year to year and location to location. Early-, mid- and late-spring are sometimes used to more closely define the bloom time. Depending on the species, variety and micro-climate, blooming may occur from February to May.Q. WHEN CAN THE FOLIAGE OF SPRING-FLOWERING BULBS BE REMOVED?A. Allow the foliage to remain until it withers and dies naturally (late spring to early summer). The longer the foliage remains, the longer the plant can photosynthesize and build up its food reserves for subsequent re-flowering. Premature removal can severely weaken a bulb, resulting in poor flowering and/or death!Q. WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO DIG AND DIVIDE SPRING-FLOWERING BULBS?A. Heritage/Heirloom bulbs do not require digging as a rule. They should continue to naturalize (return year after year). After several years, if blooming seems to decrease due to overcrowding, bulbs can be dug and divided when foliage begins to turn yellow.
TO CHILL OR NOT TO CHILL?
Heritage/Heirloom bulbs do not require chilling.
FORCING HERITAGE/HEIRLOOM BULBS INDOORS
Paperwhites, Amaryllis, Dutch Iris, Daffodils/Narcissus and Grape Hyacinths can be forced indorrs without chilling.