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Southeast Gardening: Hardy Bulbs Promise a Colorful Spring

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Lowe's Southeast regional gardening contributor Linda Askey reveals her passion for spring bulbs, especially daffodils.

'Ice Follies' daffodils return reliably year after year
From dry bulbs to spring flowers takes only a few months.

Planting bulbs in fall is an act of faith, like setting a paper boat to sail on a creek. You plan to see it later, but what happens before you meet again is out of your control. That's how it is with bulbs. You put them in the ground and wait, usually months. Then their buds push bravely through the cold soil to keep their promise.

Bagged daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and crocuses are the mainstays of the garden center bulb rack. Dry and resembling odd onions, they seem unlikely successes at first glance. However, I am witness to the addiction of bulbs. My husband and I planted 500 daffodils every year until we started running out of room, and they are still a welcome sight in spring.

I like to grow the bulbs that will come back year after year, hence my interest in daffodils, or more correctly Narcissus: 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation', 'Hawera', 'Cheerfulness' and 'Pheasant's Eye'. Between are many dependable bulbs that bloom large and small in white, yellow, orange and pink.

This 4-year-old clump of Rijnsveld's Early Sensation' daffodils bloom facing south.

Some of the other reliable perennial daffodils for the Southeast are 'Accent', 'Avalanche', 'Baby Moon', 'Ice Follies', 'Jack Snipe', 'Minnow', 'Peeping Tom', 'Tête-à-Tête' and 'Thalia'. Of course there are many more, hundreds in fact. Regardless of which ones catch your eye, remember:

Daffodil flowers face the sun. It won't help to plant them where you can only see them from the east or north side.

Plant the bulbs deeply. The base of the bulb should be at a depth equal to 3 times the height of the bulb.

Use bulb fertilizer.
It helps daffodils return with strong blooms year after year.

Plant at a consistent depth for consistent flowering. Shallow-planted bulbs will warm faster and bloom earlier.

Plant in masses. Six bulbs are OK in a small garden, but in an average garden bed, think dozens.

Daffodils are good in containers.
If you plant your sunny pots with pansies for the winter, try underplanting with daffodil bulbs. They will push through the pansies to create another tier of color.

Bulbs are flowers I give myself in advance, a promise of spring to come.

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