Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Bulbs for Woodlands (Shade)

Master Gardener, Jo Canning, Guest Speaker at PRGC's October 25th Meeting, provided members with a list of bulbs suitable for planting in woodlands (shade) conditions.  Below is a collection of images of some of the bulbs found on that list. 


Arum italicum
Arum italicum (Italian arum or Italian Lords-and-Ladies) is a 3-season plant and a true shade lover.  Tops out at 3 ft.  Leaves sprout in late autumn or early winter.  White flowers (spathes) appear in spring and lasts until summer, when they die back, leaving clusters of red fruit until early or mid autumn. 

Chionodoxa luciliae
Chionodoxa luciliae, (Lucile's Glory-of-the-Snow) in its native Greece, blooms at the edges of mountain snow banks.  The blooms range from deep blue through to pink to white.  Great under deciduous shrubs where sun hits the ground in early season and equally good in rockery or along pathways.  Does well in full sun or partial shade. 

(Also found in Autumn list)
Cyclamen repandum
Photo Credit:  Giuliano Campus
The hardy cyclamen are very satisfying shade plants with varied flowers and foliage.  As long as there is plenty of leaf mould to feed them, they naturalize easily under deciduous trees, tall shrubs, or on a shaded scree or rockery.  They need an alkaline soil many coastal woodlands do not have so top the leaf mould with at least 2" of turkey grit, a type of calcium rich gravel found in feed stores.  All cyclamen self-sow.  Let the seed pods develop & drop around the parent plant.  Note:  this is not the florist's cyclamen, which is strictly an indoor plant. 
Eranthis hyemalis
Photo Credit:  Andrea Moro
Eranthis hyemalis  (winter aconite) is a very early bright yellow bloomer that is good for rock gardens or underplantings  where the sun shines in spring, then becomes shady for the rest of the year.  Good combined with later blooming bulbs like crocus or narcissus.  Choose an area that never dries out or (if the tubers survive at all) you will never get a good carpet over the years. 

Fritillaria meleagris

Fritillaria imperialis
Photo Credit: Trevor Sims
Fritillaria camschatcensis
Photo Credit: Trevor Sims

Fritillaria species, a varied genus whose members have quite different needs, do best in moisture retentive humus-rich soils and cool summer temperatures, are recognizable for their strangely patterned flowers. 

F. camschatcensis - (chocolate lily) bears dark purple-black pendant flowers grouped on 5" stems

F. meleagris - the foot tall (checkered lily) has checkered deep pink and white blossoms

F. imperialis - has a single 3-5 foot stem topped with a very showy yellow, orange or red flower; deer and rodent do not care for this plant, probably due to its unpleasant odour

The list of naturalizing bulbs for summer is much shorter than the springtime offerings.  Many summer bulbs are spring planted and are not suited to the easy-care shade or woodland setting because either they are too tender or sun-or-drought lovers (either summer or winter). 

Arisaema triphyllum
Photo Credit:  Blythe Wold

Arisaema species, unusual shade lovers, are related to the calla lily with flowers of a similar form.  All are of differing heights, with similar leaves and blooms, and are striking specimens on patios, shaded decks or at a pathway junction. 

Cardiocrinum giganteum
Cardiocrinum giganteum  (Himalayan lily) needs filtered sun or light shade to be happy and does well in our climate as long as it gets summer moisture and no hard freeze.   In July and August it produces huge white flowers with red markings.  It can be slow to establish but once settled becomes a spectacular 9 foot giant. 

Lilium species (Martagon) Orange Marmelade
Lilium species.  Modern hybrid lilies do not do well in woodland settings.  The North American and Martagon species, however, are right at home in dappled or partial shade.  They add a unique dimension to our shade gardens and reward us with spots of colour floating above the woodland floor.  Plant on mounds of leafy, gritty, well-drained soil that stays evenly moist and with a minimum of 2 hours of sun a day.  Although these species lilies are difficult to find and establish in your garden, following are some that are recommended for the woodland garden. 

L. superbum: The Turk's Cap lily is easiest to grow. The blooms are orange to magenta with purple or brown specks. The recurved, nodding flowers appear July through August.

L. martagon: another similarly coloured Turk's Cap from Mongolia that also offers a white (var. album) variety.

Zantedeschia elliottiana
Photo Source:  Wikipedia

Zantedeschia species.  Most callas are suited only to indoor conditions but two calla lilies - Z. aethiopica and Z. elliottiana -  do well in our climate. 

Z. aethiopica(giant white arum lily or common arum lily) it is the earlier bloomer, evergreen in a protected spot, and will often bloom in late spring through summer.  It does best in moisture-retentive soil that remains so all year so it is suited to a pond or stream margin in light shade to full sun.

Z. elliottiana:  (golden calla or yellow or golden arum lily) has blooms that begin as green-rimmed white then mature to deep yellow. 


Colchicum autumnale
Photo Credit:  Milos Andera
Colchicum species.  (autumn crocus, also called meadow saffronautumnale - quickest to naturalize, does not stand up well to wind and rain - and C. speciosum - has the largest and most weather-resistant and earliest blooms.

Tricytris species.  (Toad lilies) This species is happy in deep or partial shade but needs humus-rich soil to thrive.  It blooms from early to late autumn on a slender but sturdy stalk up to 32" high. 

T. formosana:  from around Labour Day through late autumn, pink speckled star-like blossoms
T. hirta:  (Hairy Toad Lily) This Japanese native begins flowering earlier, often in late summer, and lasts through autumn. 

Tricyrtis hirta
Photo Source:  Wikipedia

Tricyrtis hirta in woodland setting
Information regarding woodland bulbs was provided by Master Gardener, JoAnn Canning.  Thank you, Jo. 
* A reminder that Mother Nature will be stocking some of the woodland bulbs named. *


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