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Spring Peepers

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by Tom MacCubbin
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Clivia Lily
Clivia Lily
Picture: Tom MacCubbin

Walking the landscape is lots of fun. If you have planted the gardens you know what should be there but maybe you have forgotten. It’s always neat to see plants peeping out from behind overgrowths or up from once barren soil. Maybe you have forgotten they were there after they declined for fall or maybe it’s just some flower you have not seen for a long time.

One of my spring peepers is the hidden lily which is actually a ginger. The long stalks of foliage die back for the winter and then all of a sudden the flowers appear in spring. Actually it is easy to forget where the plants were growing. Also, they spread by underground rhizomes so you are not quite sure where the plants will be next year. This ginger likes the filtered sun locations.

A little further down the walkway is the clivia. I know where the bulb-like plants are growing but never know when they are going to flower. Normally it is after a period of dry weather. The flowers are a bright orange color. They are slow growing and quite expensive. I was once offered a yellow one for $75 but it was a bit more than I want to pay for a bulb. Maybe I will some day. The plants like the filtered sun and bloom several times a year.

Other bulbs without flowers popping up are the caladiums. This plant really grows from a tuber to product the colorful leaves we all enjoy. Did you know this fancy leaf plant actually had a start in Central Florida at the homes of Drs. Mead and Nehrling in the early 1900's? Eventually the collections ended up in Lake Placid which is now the Caladium Capital of the world. The bulbs are so easy to grow in sun or shade but seem to do best with filtered sun.

So far these have been fairly common bulbs. Now I have a challenge for you. Find a bulb, actually a rhizome, called the achimenes. It is an African violet relative that overflows hanging baskets. The flowers come in blue, red, pinks and whites. They only grow during the warmer months. Some do use them for ground covers too but they are best in baskets. Grow this one and let me know how you do.

Florida has lots of bulbs you can grow and most can be planted at this time of the year. Check out the bulbs for Florida in our May plantings and join in planting these great bulbs or bulb-like plants.

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