Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

Order your Colchicums Now

août 26
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The colchicum (often falsely called autumn crocus, which is a very different bulb) is a beautiful autumn-flowering bulb that is hardy from zones 4 to 8, even zone 3 if the sector enjoys good snow cover. The spectacular flowers do indeed resemble giant crocuses, although they belong to an entirely different family. Curiously, they emerge from the ground without foliage, creating a particularly stunning effect. The leaves only appear the following spring, at the same time as the leaves of other hardy bulbs, then disappear in the summer. You plant colchicums in September… and the flowers bloom only a few days later. Over time, the colony will multiply and you can divide them to fill your flowerbeds with these beautiful flowers.

You will not find colchicums in most garden centers, however. Stores haven’t the faintest idea how to handle these bulbs which should be planted as soon as they arrive, otherwise the start to bloom on the shelf (yes, with no soil at all!). That being the case, you have little choice but to order them by mail. They will then be delivered in September just at the right time to plant them. In the US, try In Canada, try, or Elsewhere, check the Internet for a bulb source near you.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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