Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

Best Bulbs for Dry Shade

septembre 15
Siberian squill naturalized in dry shade. Photo: Wikipedia

In general, spring-flowering bulbs naturalize better at the foot of trees with a taproot, like an oak, than trees with shallow, spreading roots, such as a poplar or maple. That’s because trees with shallow roots hinder the growth of bulbs, sucking all the moisture from the soil and emptying it of its nutrients, creating a dreaded condition know to gardeners as “dry shade”. Some bulbs, though, are exceptions to this rule and will tolerate root competition. This is particularly true of Siberian squill (Scilla sibirica), snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis), glory of the snow (Chionodoxa spp. ), trilliums (Trillium spp.), trout lilies (Erythronium spp.) and winter aconites (Eranthis app.). All will grow under deciduous trees, where sun is abundant in spring, but totally absent during the summer, and aren’t the least bit bothered by tree roots. In fact, they will usually spread on their own once they’ve settled in. Try them where your previous attempts to cultivate bulbs were unsuccessful.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. After studies at the University of Toronto and Laval University where he obtained his B.A. in modern languages in 1978, he succeeded in combining his language skills with his passion for gardening in a novel career as a garden writer and lecturer. 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 is a regular contributor to and horticultural consultant for Fleurs, Plantes, Jardins garden magazine and has written for many other garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening, Rebecca’s Garden 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 50 other titles in English and French. He can be seen in Quebec on French-language television and was notably a regular collaborator for 7 years on the TV shows Fleurs et Jardins and Salut Bonjour Weekend. He is the President of the Garden Writers Association Foundation and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. An avid proponent of garden tourism, he has lead garden tours throughout Canada and to the gardens of over 30 countries over the last 30 years. He presently resides in Quebec City, Quebec.

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