The Smith County Master Gardeners will be offering some bulbs that are underused in most East Texas gardens at their Bulbs and More Sale on Oct. 8 at Harvey Convention Center in Tyler. Alliums and species tulips will add interest to any garden in the spring.
Alliums are a genus that include onions, garlic, scallions and leeks and are found in the temperate climates of the Northern Hemisphere. Depending on the species, they vary in height from 2 inches to almost 5 feet, and have flowers that form in a ball at the top of a leafless stem. They all have an onion-like odor and taste and, for that reason, are deer- and rodent-resistant.
Alliums are undemanding in their soil requirements as long as the soil is well-drained. They are drought-tolerant plants and prefer soil on the dry side and a location in full sun. They multiply naturally, and can be left in the same spot for years. There will be four different alliums offered at the sale:
- Purple Sensation is a large allium that produces deep purple flowers that are 2 - 4 inches in diameter on stems that are 24 - 30 inches high in April and May and naturalizes easily.
- A. Cowanni is an 1823 heirloom that blooms with white blooms that are 2 inches in diameter on 16 - 24 inch stems in the late spring.
- A. Sphaerocephalon is commonly called Drumstick Allium and is an heirloom plant that dates back to 1594. It blloms on stems that are 12 - 18 inches tall with 1 inch flowers and readily self-seeds in the garden.
- A. Cernuum is also called the Nodding Wild Onion because it’s 18 inch stems bend at the top and the clusters of lilac colored flowers appear to be nodding.
Anyone who lives in the South soon learns that growing Dutch tulips in their gardens is hard work. Bulbs must be chilled in a refrigerator for six to 10 weeks and then planted at the beginning of January. And after they bloom, the gardener has to throw them out because they will not return the following year.
Luckily, there are species tulips available that don’t need to be chilled and will reliably make their appearance year after year in the garden. Species tulips, also called botanical tulips, are the parents of the big Dutch hybrids and are native to the Mediterranean and Middle East. They are smaller than Dutch tulips and their blooms are more delicate. They look wonderful in clusters, in rock gardens or in naturalized drifts. Plant them in full sun to light shade in well-drained soil. They also do well in containers with daffodils and cool-season annuals like pansies. There will be three different varieties of species tulips available at the sale:
- Lilac Wonder is an early bloomer with delicate lilac flowers with yellow centers that bloom on eight-inch stems.
- Lady Jane blooms mid-season on 8 to 10-inch stems with flowers with alternating red petals and white petal-like sepals suggesting s candy cane.
- Tubergen’s Gem blooms in mid-to-late March on 6-inch stems with flowers that have alternating red and yellow petals.