Flower bulb catalogs are in the mail for those who like to mail order spring flowering bulbs like daffodils, dutch iris, tulips, ipheion and hyacinths. Ordering early guarantees best selection and offers bulb varieties not locally available. Some well-known mail order and online companies include: Brent and Becky’s Bulbs, Van Engelen, Van Bourgondien, Malboro, Dutch Gardens, John Scheepers, and McClure & Zimmerman. Online sources like eBay are also good places to shop.
A trip to the annual Houston Bulb and Plant Mart (www.gchouston.org) on October 14-15, 2011, will overwhelm you with old favorites and new plant introductions. Though moved to a new location, this is a “destination” plant sale and well worth the drive. Not only will you find spring flowering bulbs, but also some summer flowering bulbs and interesting perennials.
Speaking of summer flowering bulbs, three of my favorites are our native swamp or spider lily (Hymenocallis), the imported spider lily or hurricane lily (Lycoris) and the Formosa lily. The most common of the native spider lilies seen growing in roadside ditches, marshes and poorly drained soils blooms mid-spring with fragrant white airy flowers. The cultivar ‘Tropical Giant,’ popular throughout the Gulf Coast, blooms June and July.
Lycoris is aptly named hurricane lily because leafless flower stems emerge at the peak of hurricane season from late August through September. It’s one of those bulbs that just won’t quit, multiplying and flowering for decades.
Formosa lily closely resembles an Easter lily on steroids! The plant grows a thick, upright stem to support the nine to 11, pure white, trumpet-shaped, fragrant flowers. And the best part is that it blooms in July when many plants are suffering from the summer heat.