When Buying Spring Bulbs, You’ll Kick Yourself If You Don’t Consider the Value of This Special Program

A supermarket display offering spring-planted bulbs and perennials for sale in little boxes.

There’s nothing wrong with shopping the store displays, although many of the most serious gardeners shun them in favor of better sources. There is a much better source to recommend, but first I want to point out that there’s not necessarily anything wrong with this selection. I’m happy to have people in any community planting gladiolas, ismenes, dahlias, zephyranthes, and I don’t want to dissuade shoppers from planting such easy and adaptable perennial flowers as columbine and globe thistle (which is a rare color: blue, xeric, and good for pollinators).

Quality is part of the reason, because the quality you get from these boxes is sufficient and adequate but not the highest. In the Green Industry it’s often true you get what you pay for, and I do willingly when I know the difference is worth it. There’s one source, however, that will deliver even far more than that (superior quality, that is) . . .

When you purchase bulbs this spring, I want you to go here. This link allows you to support non-profit organizations ranging from public gardens and historical societies to schools, scout troops, museums, and orchestras while you purchase some of the very best bulbs in the marketplace from a very extensive selection.

Note: There are some irregularities to the listings, so search with care. For instance, the Morton Arboretum is listed under “The”. So are “The Garden Conservancy” and several others worth finding and supporting.

Bloomin’ Bucks

is a fund-raising program designed to earn selected non-profit organizations a percentage of every order received through this portal! The 387 organizations currently participating thank you for your support! So go ahead and splurge here; it’s helping a good cause. And then when the order comes, the quality is another thing you’ll really appreciate!

A Damn Good Guide to Growing Magnificent Rhododendrons Through the Year

note: Often the purpose of links is to indicate further information is available on related topics. Most links are independent, but some help support this web site. If you prefer, feel free to donate instead.

A young plant of Rhododendron 'Maruschka', showing the black leaves it has all winter.
Some varieties, such as this young plant of Rhododendron ‘Maruschka’, have black leaves all winter.

“Things reveal themselves passing away.” Although this quote is often attributed to William Yeats, I couldn’t trace it to him. Whenever a plant dies on you, however, there has to be a reason, and this group of plants is notorious for not being durable and adaptable.

The primary reason rhododendrons die on people splits into two related factors: unsuitable soil and inadequate drainage. Keep in mind that in the wild, rhododendrons grow on the sides of mountains and the banks of streams. People who fail often plant them on flat ground. Try a slope, and remember they need loose, fluffy soil like you find under trees in the woods. Since the roots are shallow, mulch lightly if you do.

Second point: If a plant lives but doesn’t flourish, try moving it to a sunnier spot.

January: Appreciate varieties that have black winter leaves, such as ‘Black Satin’, ‘Ginny Gee’, PJM types, and ‘Maruschka’. Take advantage of warm beverages needed on cold mornings: Collect coffee grounds to distribute around plants once winter ends. Coffee grounds are good as a source of nitrogen that isn’t too strong, but note that they don’t make the soil more acidic. Pay your American Rhododendron Society membership dues or join a chapter. Browse nursery web sites and catalogs for inspiration. Read more

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