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Connecticut Garden Journal
Connecticut Garden Journal is a weekly program hosted by horticulturalist Charlie Nardozzi. Each week, Charlie focuses on a topic relevant to both new and experienced gardeners, including pruning lilac bushes, growing blight-free tomatoes, groundcovers, sunflowers, bulbs, pests, and more.

Connecticut Garden Journal: Cultivating Small Bulbs

Ivo Ivov flickr.com/photos/53421063@N02
Creative Commons
Scilla bifolia, also known as Bluebell.

While tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths get all the attention for spring flowering bulbs, lately I've been more interested in the small bulbs. 

Snow drops, scilla and grape hyacinths may not individually have the visual impact that a large daffy or tulip can have, but they're beautiful and most importantly, easy to grow.

Snowdrops are one of the first blooming spring bulbs, often flowering when there's still snow on the ground.

The small white flowers are a breath of fresh air after a long winter -- and they're fragrant, too!

Scilla features clusters of nodding blue, white, or pink colored flowers. depending on the variety. They spread wildly, and I love seeing swaths of scilla naturalized around old farmhouses.

Grape hyacinths have a funny name. They are not hyacinths, and are not related to grapes, either. They bloom a little later in spring than snowdrops and scilla with statuesque small purple, white, and even yellow colored flowers that look great next to early daffodils, species tulips, and crocus.

These small bulbs are best planted in large masses. Plant in a perennial garden, under trees, in a meadow or orchard, or any area where you won't be mowing the grass regularly in spring.

The foliage needs to yellow naturally, and the seeds to set, in order for these small beauties to survive and spread.

Credit Dave Gunn lickr.com/photos/shelley_dave / Creative Commons
Creative Commons
Grape hyacinth.

When naturalizing these small bulbs in a field, scatter the bulbs in an area and plant where they drop to give the meadow a natural look.

If you're worried about chipmunks and squirrels, add crushed seashells, oyster shells, or cayenne pepper to the planting hole to thwart them.

Next week on the Connecticut Garden Journal, I'll be talking about chrysanthemums. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.

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