creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Native Bulbs for the Spring Habitat Garden

Now is the time to start thinking about your spring garden. Fall being the best time of year to add plants as the ground temperature is still warm and allows the roots to get founded in their new environment. In the southeast, rain is most abundant during the winter months, which also helps get those plants established. Come spring these shrubs, trees and perennials are ready to emerge and grow strong. As you think about plants to fill those empty spaces in your garden, revitalize flower beds or create a container garden, considered adding bulbs for additional charm. 

Southern Meadows Blog

Mention bulbs and most gardeners typically think of crocuses, hyacinth, daffodils, and/or tulips, but did you know there are several native bulbs worth including in a habitat garden? Native, early blooming flowers add value to your garden ecosystem providing the first nectar sources to many at risk pollinators.

Camassia (Camassia Lindl) are starry shaped, blue flowers that burst open in March. These nectar rich flowers are an important food source for our native bees. Camassia grows best in moist yet well-drained soil in full or part sun. They can also make great container companions for an early spring show.

Southern Meadows Blog

Pair with columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), creeping phlox (Phlox stolonifera) or shooting star (Primula meadia) for a showy statement or plant near earlier blooming ephemerals for succession planting. This spring bulb is deer resistant but voles may eat them. 

Southern Meadows Blog

Trout Lily (Erythronium umbilicatum) is another March bloomer that prefers the woodland habitat on our property. These spring ephemerals take advantage of the sunlight that hits the forest floor before the canopy trees leaf out. 

Southern Meadows Blog

Their nodding, yellow flowers provide a welcome spark of color against the carpet of brown leaflitter. The foliage is mottled with reddish/purplish brown giving it the common name trout lily. The trout lily miner bee feeds almost exclusively on the nectar of these flowers. 

Southern Meadows Blog

The root system is a corm with fibrous roots and stolons that create offshoots from the mother plant, which will produce a lovely colony over time. This bulb grows well from Zone 3-9. 

Southern Meadows Blog

Virginia Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica) is a delicate, native wildflower that is found in moist woodlands and meadows. In nature it grows in rich, humusy soils; however, it tolerates a variety of average garden soils. This early spring ephemeral has white to light pink petals with dark pink stipes. It will grow in dappled sunlight in spring where the blooms close at night or cloudy days.

Southern Meadows Blog
photo credit: gardenia.net

The Xerces Society lists this flower as one that creates significant value for native bees. This is another flower that hosts, almost exclusively, a miner bee (spring beauty miner bee). This low growing plant produces roots that look like little potatoes. It spreads by these underground tubers or by seed.  

Spring blooming bulbs are best planted in fall so they can get established during the winter months, giving them a good start before the blooming season. Bulb companies are taking orders now for fall shipping and it is my experience that they sell out fast. Get planning, get shopping! 

5 comments:

  1. Karin, do you have any mail order catalogs or websites that you recommend?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Colorblends is a one I like to use. They have great quality bulbs. Lanier Nursery had Camassia last time I was there and Carolina Wild is doing online orders.

      Delete
  2. Oh my goodness, we're thinking alike! I ordered yellow trout lilies a while back and also Camassias, but I went with C. scilloides. I got the trout lilies in the ground a few days ago and will plant the Camassias soon. I have a small patch of spring beauties, and they're one of my favorite native ephemerals. Great minds think alike!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay! I will be putting more trout lilies in our woodland garden later this fall. Still too early here to put bulbs in. I am also adding more Camassias to other garden beds because I like them so much. They are such a great plant to pair with other perennials or spring ephemerals.

      Delete
  3. Yes, these are all fine plants. I tried growing Camassia in containers, which was not successful. I should try some in the beds, along with trout lilies. Do you know if they are ephemeral?

    ReplyDelete

One of my favorite things about blogging is the conversation with readers. Leave a comment and let's get talking. ~Karin