Gardening

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. 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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