We all get itchy to start planting this time of year. Bright smiling pansies and ornamental cabbage are a welcome sight, to be sure. But don’t stop there! Tagawa’s has a terrific selection of spring-planted bulbs that need your attention now! I thought it would be fun to ask some of my friends on the Tagawa team what their favorite spring-planted bulbs are, so here we go!
Beautiful, tropical cannas
Having a touch of the tropics is fun in any garden, and there’s no easier way to do that than by growing big, bold canna lilies.
Beth is Tagawa’s Store Manager. She says she admires cannas because of their “stately height and beautiful leaves,” in addition to the stunning flowers of red, yellow, or peach. Trish, our Annuals/Production Admin. Assistant, completely agrees. She loves the colors, the tropical feel, and the fact that cannas stand up to our Colorado sunshine
Cannas come in standard or dwarf sizes. The dwarf varieties are perfect for large containers that can be grown in full sun. Beth says she grows her cannas with Vermillionaire cuphea, an annual with orangish-red tubular flowers, also known as the Firecracker or Cigar plant. She adds some lime green sweet potato vine for contrast, and then just sits back and watches the hummingbirds move in.
Cannas aren’t hardy here, but keeping them for the next season requires very little work. Wait for a night or two of frost to shut down the foliage then just carefully dig up the lily bulbs and store them over the winter in a cold dark place that never freezes. Set them a few inches apart in a box filled with peat moss or sand and add just a little bit of water every month or so to keep them from drying out.
Elegant Asiatic and Oriental lilies
Big open flowers in an amazing array of colors: what’s not to love about these lilies?
Jere is Tagawa’s Annuals/Production Manager. She says these lilies as a group don’t get nearly as much attention as they deserve. She loves to see them planted among early- and late-blooming perennials for wonderful late-spring color. To make things easy for the gardener, their bulbs do not need to be dug up in the fall.
Both Asiatic and Oriental lilies prefer full sun, ‘though they’ll tolerate a bit of shade. They definitely need well-drained soil. And a word of caution: lilies are definitely not deer-proof. They should be protected from browsing by wandering bambis as much as possible.
Anemones, a.k.a. Windflowers
My Outreach and Events colleague, and very dear buddy Debra Ann, seems to be in love with anemones. And for good reason!
The name “windflowers” comes from their habit of waving so charmingly with even the slightest breeze. Debra Ann has them growing under an apple tree and says “they’re so sweet and darling,” that she’s anxious to try them in other areas of her garden.
Anemones are most often seen with soft pinkish-white blossoms, but there are also varieties that produce bold flowers of red, true pink, and royal blue.
Plant anemones in clumps, and just wait for the honey bees to find them as soon as the flowers open on a warm spring day.
Liatris: one tough plant!
Because Debra Ann, (“D.A.” to her friends), is such a good pal… and such an excellent gardener, I invited her to offer one more nomination. Liatris (a.k.a “Gay Feather” or “Blazing Star”) was right at the top of her list.
You might be familiar with Liatris. It’s often planted in the medians of roadways. That’s how tough it is!
Liatris sends up two-foot wands of purplish-pink flowers in mid-summer. A white variety is available, too, usually as a mix. Look closely, and you’ll realize that the “flower” is actually hundreds of incredibly tiny individual blossoms… much loved by bees and butterflies!
D.A. says this plant is “bombproof,” and gives height and structure to her garden. The flower stalks appear in mid-to-late summer. Give Liatris full sun and infrequent but deep watering the first year, and it will become one of the toughest kids in the block.
And my own pick? Begonias!
I grow my summer annuals in containers on my deck, and nothing could be more at home there than tuberous begonias.
There are different kinds of begonias… wax begonias with their abundance of blossoms and Rex begonias where it’s all about the foliage… but tuberous begonias are definitely my favorite. They can be showstoppers in a large container, draping over the side of the pot with a kind of quiet elegance.
These begonias will burn easily in full sun, but give them some bright or dappled shade and they show off with big flowers of yellow, red, pink, orange, coral, and white.
Begonias don’t survive our winters here but they’re well worth the time it takes to keep them happy in their dormant stage once cold weather hits. I let the plant take one light frost, then dig it up gently and store the corms in a cold place (above freezing) in peat moss. I’ll give them a small drink of water once a month or so… just enough to keep the medium from going completely dry. Then I plant them up in early spring into a modest-sized pot and give them bright indirect light and water until they’re ready to go out into a large pot and spend the summer outdoors.
So many to choose from!
Tagawa Gardens has well over 100 spring-planted bulbs to choose from, and now is an excellent time to select some for your garden.
All of these flowers come with excellent instructions. Pick the flowers that speak to you, and enjoy!