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Hiding underground for most of their life, bulbs spring forth when their growing conditions are “just right,” and bloom to charm us. Narcissus and daffodils flower in spring, while rain lilies prefer Southwest summers.

Plant Once

I am a “plant it and forget about it” kind of gardener – not a fussy one. There are some bulbs that you will need to dig up and store, or put in your fridge, or what have you. I want you to succeed so this is the list of bulbs that you generally do NOT need to fuss with.

Spring Flowering Bulbs need Summer Shade

Plant these bulbs in the right place and they will return year after year to charm you. The right place is often in summer shade where the soils sheltering their sleeping bodies will not bake them in their sleep. Indeed, some bulbs need full deep shade.
If a bulb is on both these lists, this means they will stand about a half day of summer sun.

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Bulbs for full deep shade to part shade:
Agapanthus, caladium, calla, canna, crinum, crocus, day lily, Easter lily, freesia, gladiolus, lycoris, ornithogalum (star of Bethlehem), oxalis, sparaxis, spring starflower (Ipheion), tigridia, and tuberous begonia.

Bulbs for filtered sun to full sun:
*Ajo lily, allium, amaryllis, apios, *blue dicks, canna, crocus, daffodil, gladiolus, iris (all kinds), *mariposa lily, narcissus, oxalis, * Pima lily, society garlic, squill, watsonia, wild or Turkish tulip, zephyranthes (* native bulbs).

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Yes, bulbs work and play well with others. Larger bulbs will need to be planted deeper.

Specialty Spring Bulbs
Dig these up, store in pots of loose, dry soil, and replant next fall.
Cyclamen: store pots outdoors, out of direct sun, do not water.
Anemone, dahlia, ranunculus: store pots in a cool place, moisten once a month.

Learn More about Southwest Gardening

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More about growing bulbs in your landscape in this book: Month by Month Gardening for Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press). This link is to Amazon and if you buy the book there the Horticulture Therapy non-profit Tierra del Sol Institute will get a few pennies – at no extra cost to you.

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