The Buzz

Fall bulbs...Spring blooms!


By Maricela Rodriguez-Lou, Annual Seasonal Color Specialist     

Spring bulbs are an exciting attraction for our visitors. When they bloom, visitors get that springtime feeling. They are wonderful plants; they bring color to our beds and spark ideas, trends, and features that visitors can apply in their own gardens. Most spring flowering bulbs are dormant during the summer months, but here in Memphis, (zone 7B- a warm climate with a temperature higher than 55 degrees in the months of summer) heat interrupts the natural life cycle of these cold-climate natives, so we treat them as annuals.  

Autumn is the time to plant spring flowering bulbs such as tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, and muscari. We planted about 30,000 bulbs this year.  

Come see our “rivers” of tulips…we planted about 10,600 of these! ‘Mango Charm’ is a delightful, two-toned flower with mango background and yellow-edged petals, just like a ripening mango. As its flowers mature, its colors get warmer and brighter. They are accompanied by two other beauties: ‘Blushing Lady,’ a fantastic single late-blooming tulip with elegant, rose-colored petals flushing into yellow, and ‘Clearwater,’ a large Triumph tulip variety that produces neatly-formed, cup-shaped blooms in the purest white and fragrant flower. They are all excellent cut flowers, as they have a long vase life.  

Other spring bulbs you will find around the Garden:

-Muscari armeniacum, called by the old-fashioned name “grape hyacinth,” displayed as a blue edging or naturalized throughout grounds.  

-Hyacinth: Hyacinthoides a genus of flowering plants in the family Asparagaceae

  • ‘Delft Blue’ with single soft blue flowers
  • ‘Jan Bos’ in brilliant rich red, rose, and mauve tones
  • ‘Miss Saigon’ in a bold shade of fuchsia-infused violet edged with white ‘
  • 'White Pearl’ that produces glistening pure white flowers
  • ‘Bluebell’ with lovely blue blooms 

- Narcissus: always a wonderful sign that spring has arrived!

  • ‘Intrigue’ 
  • ‘Beautiful Eyes’
  •  ‘Sweet Smiles’   

Memphis Botanic Garden is a great place for people who are looking for a pleasant atmosphere where they can enjoy the flowers’ scent when they pass by or as a magnificent setting for beautiful spring photos.    

How to plant bulbs:   Select healthy bulbs that are firm and free of defects, such as cuts, bruises, or mold.  

Keep bulbs cool. They need to start their cold period before December 1, which is the ideal time to plant tulips in our area. You may plant your bulbs anytime that the soil is 60 degrees or colder at a depth of at least 6” (September or earlier October.) We pre-cooled the bulbs shipped here in September in a cooler until planting time.  It is very important to take them directly from the cooler to your planting site.  

Prepare the planting bed by loosening the soil as deeply as possible, so it's workable and has fast drainage. The existing soil could use the addition of some organic matter, such as compost. Using a low-nitrogen granular fertilizer is better because it is specifically formulated for bulbs. Follow the directions for the correct amount to apply.  

Plant bulbs 3 times deeper than their size (usually 4”to 8” deep.) Use the same rule for spacing. The rule is to plant tulips pointed end up. They grow best in full sun. Add 2 inches of pine straw mulch to your planted beds to help retain moisture and keep the bulbs cool. Water after planting, and again when leaves appear, unless they have received rain at the proper time.

Posted by Memphis Botanic Garden at 8:20 PM


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