garden-variety sparklers

if i had to choose my favorite bulb of all time it would be this, Allium schubertii:

Alium schubertii
Allium schubertii

this image was taken in our ithaca garden last year.  ithaca is in upstate ny, usda hardiness zone 6 (ahs heat zone 3/4).  Alliums, or flowering onions, do very well there.  see my friend lynn’s post on her schubertii’s here and here.  i thought i’d give them a try here in college station, usda zone 8b (ahs heat zone 9), but i was quickly disappointed to read that many bulbs don’t survive the heat and humidity so prevalent in these southern climes – to expect flowering, many require cold treatment via refrigeration.  so i thought i’d try anyway, starting with the “easy-to-grow” A. sphareocephalon (drumstick allium) and figured since i planted in november that’d be chilly enough.  i waited, and waited…, for any sign of life to emerge from the bulb’s resting place… and not a damn one of ’em came up.

but now i believe i’ve found a suitable southern alternative, Scadoxus multiflorus (blood lily):

Scadoxus multiflorus
Scadoxus multiflorus (blood lily)

while the coral orangey-red color is quite different (and pretty), the plant architecture is similar to the one i so loved with the schubertii… a globe of starburst radiating from a single stem.  it’ll be interesting to see how this one matures, as i can already imagine drifts of them in the garden…

the Scadoxus multiflorus flower emerges before its foliage
the Scadoxus multiflorus flower emerges before its foliage
Scadoxus detail
the Scadoxus flower opens outside in
scale relationship: Scadoxus (12") : Iris or Dietes (40")
scale relationship: Scadoxus (12") : Iris or Dietes (40")
a fine parasol for these sunny days
a stellar parasol for these sunny days
Scadoxus multiflorus
Scadoxus multiflorus

a garden-variety sparkler if i ever saw one… happy july!


5 thoughts on “garden-variety sparklers

  1. Ha! “Garden-variety sparklers” is brilliant 🙂 I think the blood lilies are filling schubertii’s shoes nicely (and with such hot color!). Do you know how long schubertiis are meant to last in the zone 6 (I think we might be 5 though) garden? This is the 2nd year for the ones we have, and one is looking tiny, but it may be crowded where it is, since the sea holly next door is taking off. Happy July!

    • the schubertii’s we planted in the tompkins garden seemed to get smaller each year… i figured it was because i couldn’t bear to cut off the flower, which sent all the bulb energy to the seeds and not back to the bulb. but the area where the the flower diameter was the smallest was also getting more and more shade, so perhaps that contributed to the miniaturizing effect? i (obviously) saved seeds, but haven’t planted them out yet (is it worth it here?), figuring it’d take forever to get a bulb large enough to flower again. so to the bulb store we shall go!

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