DENVER — You'll succeed with bulbs if you pick the right bulbs for the right places. Some bulbs just aren't cut out for long-term success in our climate or they're vulnerable to wildlife.
All tulips are native to central Asia. During the reign of the Ottoman Empire, they were widely disseminated across the Mideast and Europe. Eventually they ended up in Holland, where the Dutch fell in love with them and founded an industry that thrives to this day. The problem is that tulip varieties and hybrids that grow well in the Netherlands don't always do well here. They often have a good first year and decline after that.
The Darwin hybrids are the exceptions. They are big and beautiful but retain the vigor of wild tulips from Asia. And the wild and "nearly wild" tulips, such as Tulipa tarda and the Emperor types, also do great. Star-shaped, yellow T. tarda actually multiplies in my garden.
If, however, you try to garden in the midst of deer and rodents, tulips are a lousy choice. You'd be wiser to choose bulbs that are either poisonous or unpalatable to critters. These include daffodils, hyacinth, grape hyacinth, snow crocus, snow iris, Siberian squill and glory-of-the-snow. These have all thrived in my garden for 25 years. Grape hyacinths persist and spread for generations.
All spring-flowering bulbs must be planted this fall; no exceptions. They can't be held over for spring planting because they'll dry up and die. So don't go leaving them in the garage or trunk of your car. Plant them before the ground freezes.
More Proctor's Garden:
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