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Cool Is Kind

October 13, 1985|GEORGE HARMON SCOTT

The large trumpet varieties of daffodils are not particularly adapted to Southern California. They thrive in such places as the British Isles and our own Pacific Northwest, where rains continue into the summer and keep the bulbs well supplied with moisture while they develop. We have to provide such moisture with supplemental watering. Keep in mind that these daffodils are subject to basal plate rot when the soil temperature exceeds 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Planting them seven to eight inches deep helps keep them cool. Or, plant them under deciduous trees (where they will get plenty of sun in the spring but adequate shade during the summer) or under ground covers or bedding plants that shade the ground.

Several wild or "species" tulips have been very successfully grown in our area-- Tulipa clusiana , T. saxatilis and T. sylvestris . All three can now be planted without pre-chilling. Tulipa clusiana have been in my garden for more than 30 years; the bed has spread six or seven feet on either side of the old row. This tulip, commonly called the candlestick or lady tulip, has alternating red and white petals and a dark center blotch. Being a wild tulip, it is not as large as the hybrids--only one foot tall, with a slender flower that is star-shaped when it's wide open. Each subsequent year, many more of these plants--with their narrow, red-edged leaves--emerge on their own and bloom. They don't bloom as a solid mass but rather look like wildflowers blooming here and there because it takes about three years for a bulb to build up the strength to flower a second time. This tulip apparently does equally well in inland valleys and at the beach. I pamper mine by giving the plants extra water during the growing season, to compensate for the sandy soil.

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