Q: How can I leave spring bulbs--such as ranunculus, dutch iris, and daffodils--in the ground all year without having them rot from the watering of summer annuals? Too, when I plant over bulbs, I seem to chop many of the bulbs in the process. Any suggestions?
A: In my opinion, ranunculus tubers are the finest bulbs that we can grow in Southern California. However, they do rot if left in the garden, and even if removed, they seldom perform well in the second and succeeding years. It's best to consider them one-season investments.
Dutch iris will persist for years and do not seem to rot in damp soil. The large-flowered trumpet daffodils are more chancy; I've lost many from summer watering. More reliable are paperwhite narcissus, which seem to be indestructible. To protect all bulbs from errant shovels, mark their locations with stakes.