Fall blooming bulbs; the stunning Sternbergia lutea!
by David Salman
This Mediterranean native bulb commonly known as Lily of the Field or Winter Daffodil provides a brief but fabulous bit of color in the fall xeriscape. The large, deep yellow, six petaled flowers appear suddenly in late September here in Santa Fe's high elevation, short season Zone 6 climate. (They bloom later in warmer areas.) The flowers illuminate their planting area for a couple of weeks before retiring for the season. But don't forget Sternbergia's ornamental evergreen foliage. The deep green, strap-like leaves hold their color right through the winter adding a startling element of green to the winter garden.
Sternbergia is a xeric species native to the dry hills and mountains surrounding the northern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. It prefers being planted in a planting bed with other xeric plants so it doesn't get too much summer water. I recommend planting it into xeric groundcovers or low growing perennials like Dwarf Silver Leaf Sage (Salvia daghestanica, as seen in the photo). The Salvia's silver foliage provides a dramatic backdrop to the bright flower and very green foliage. Silver groundcovers like Snow-in-Summer (Cerastium) and Patridge Feather (Tanacetum niveum ssp. amani) are complementary companions for Sternbergia.
Double Tuberose (Polianthes) is a double-flowered cultivar, also known as The Pearl, and has fragrant, creamy-white flowers on tall stems above clumps of grass-like foliage. Double Tuberose is a wonderful cut flower for long-lasting flower arrangements. Perfect for patio pots. 24-36" tall.
Like a flash of firelight, Gloriosa Lily (Gloriosa rothschildiana or commonly, Flame Lily or Fire Lily) is an eye-catching climbing tender perennial that bears unusual rich-toned red flowers, with penciled yellow edges and swept back petals. Spice up a boring wall or trellis with Gloriosa! (Note: All parts of the plant are poisonous.)
Crocosmia Lucifer blooms in summer with brilliant, hummingbird attracting scarlet-red flowers on arching stems. Plant Crocosmia Lucifer bulbs (corms) in spring for very showy blooms and excellent cut flowers.
Zephyranthes Pink Rain Lilies (sometimes known as Fairy Lilies) are some of our finest native bulbs ranging from Texas down into Central America. Pink Rain Lily naturalizes to form colorful colonies that bloom after summer rains.