Magazine article Sunset

Three Bulbs That Produce Mightily in Arid Climates

Magazine article Sunset

Three Bulbs That Produce Mightily in Arid Climates

Article excerpt

Three bulbs that produce mightily in arid climates

Some of the best bulbs for mild-winter climates are hard to find. Among the favorites of bulb connoisseurs are babiana, streptanthera, and tritonia. Their strength lies in their great productivity and adaptability to arid climates.

In nursery bulb bins, their small corms look puny and inconsequential. Even the first year or two in your garden, the small, scattered flowers may not catch your attention. But be patient. With proper care, your reward after a few years will be a sheet of color.

You can choose from the rich magenta to purple shades of babiana, or the fiery orange to pale salmon of tritonia and streptanthera. Each produces many 1 1/2-inch-wide flowers on 8- to 12-inch-long stems. Bloom lasts two to four weeks in the spring.

More common bulbs that take similar care and conditions are freesia (white, yellow, pink, red, or purple) and sparaxis (orange, red, salmon, and white, with yellow and burgundy markings).

Check unrseries to find out which of the three uncommon bulbs, if any, they have ordered. They usually start arriving in late August and often sell quickly. …

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