Crinums, what’s soil all about?, how to water

July 15th, 2010 Posted in Uncategorized

Typically, my crinums bloom the first week of July. This year, ‘Ellen Bosanquet’ jumped the gun in June, but returned this week to avoid confusing the garden diary too much.

Crinum 'Ellen Bosanquet'

In the cat cove, the mystery pink flowered for the second year in a row.

Pink crinum lily

I know some of you wonder, “Is my crinum EVER going to bloom?” Believe me, they take their sweet time. The pink one waited  7 years or so to make its debut. Several others are paying their rent with lovely foliage for a few more years.

At the other end of the den bed from ‘Ellen’, here’s Rose of Sharon/Althea (Hibiscus syriacus ‘Jeanne D’ Arc’).

Althea, Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus syriacus 'Jeanne D' Arc'

In the cat cove, a self-seeded morning glory found a perch on the Lady Banks rose. I’ll pull it off before it makes too much mischief.

Morning glory

We’re all rejoicing with the rain that’s spared us last summer’s misery. For sure, rain is the secret ingredient that we can’t provide on demand. But the first best ingredient is the soil. We can’t control rainfall, but we can improve our soil. Ultimately, our success starts underground.

And, what is the difference between soil, compost, and mulch, and how do they work together? How does that relate to our plants?

Since these are questions I often get, this week on CTG Tom meets with George Altgelt from Geo Growers to connect the dots.

It’s perfect timing, since now’s when we need to renew our beds for fall’s vegetables and ornamentals. Our soil needs a little boost after its depletion from spring’s energy and summer’s heat.

On tour, see why Julie Donie and Alexa Villalobos from Fertile Ground Gardens are confirmed soil-huggers. In this garden they tend (originally designed by Mitzi VanSant) compost is their secret ingredient for thriving old roses and even camellias that frame the renovated historic home.

Since we’re back into a dry spell, Daphne explains how to water. Sounds simple, huh? Nope. Even experienced gardeners make this mistake.

Her featured plant is purple heart (Tradescantia pallida). I used to think this was for shade, and it does work there, especially if it gets a little shine on it. I can’t get enough purple!

Purple heart (Tradescantia pallida) with zexmenia

But give it some sun and it’s really spectacular. Along 45th street, someone lined a whole block with it and silver ponyfoot (Dichondra argentea).

purple heart with silver ponyfoot (Dichondra argentea)

At the Dell Children’s Medical Center, I’ve admired how it stands out from afar, and against tough reflected heat. Pair it with alternating big stands of Aztec grass or the dichondra for a simple elegant presentation.

Purple heart (Tradescantia pallida)

I also like the lime green of the shrimp plant against it in my partially shady front bed.

Purple heart with shrimp plant

For those of us in shade, get John Dromgoole’s ideas for heat-loving annuals.

Until next week, Linda

  1. 18 Responses to “Crinums, what’s soil all about?, how to water”

  2. By Iris/Society Garlic, Austin on Jul 15, 2010

    I recognize that 45th street block of silver ponyfoot/purple heart! It looks great. You are more patient than I to wait seven years for that crinum to appear, but it IS pretty. Looking forward to Saturday’s CTG.


    Linda reply on July 15th, 2010 5:31 pm:

    Yes, isn’t that wonderful? I’ve been wanting to get pictures forever. Just makes that entire block.


  3. By jan on Jul 15, 2010

    Linda–my crinums are fabulous this year blooming over and over. Never had so many blooms. I have Ellen Bosanquet & also the pink one that looks like yours–may be Cecil Houdyshel. Mine did not take but a year to bloom but I had huge bulbs. Used to be able to get them from Old House Gardens but no more. Thx for the pics! Jan


    Linda reply on July 16th, 2010 8:18 am:

    Wow, thanks for the possible ID on the pink one. I got it at a plant sale and it didn’t have a name. Yes, I’ve never had such blooms! Guess they appreciate that rain!


  4. By Hella Wagner on Jul 16, 2010

    Thanks Linda for the update on the Crinums – I guess I’ll have to look at just leaves for a little while longer.
    By the way, the “Monster” (blue agave) is starting to fade, do you want an update with photos?


    Linda reply on July 16th, 2010 8:18 am:

    Yes, Hella! Would love to see the Monster!


  5. By Jenny on Jul 16, 2010

    So that’s the deal with criniums. I planted some bulbs 2 years ago and am thinking I may have lost them….but then again, maybe not. Good to know. Yes the trad. and pony look perfect together. I have some for the first year.


    Linda reply on July 16th, 2010 3:54 pm:

    Jenny, are you seeing any foliage? If not, they may be gone.


  6. By Louise on Jul 18, 2010

    I have beautiful foliage plants in my backyard that I believed were bearded iris. They have not bloomed since we have lived here (2 years) and I have been struggling to figure out what I needed to do to make them bloom! Could they be criniums???


    Linda reply on July 19th, 2010 3:51 pm:

    The foliage is very different on both. Can you possibly send me a picture at Once I can see what it is, I can advise you, especially if they are iris. Linda


  7. By Daphne Richards on Jul 19, 2010

    Ab-fab, as usual!


  8. By Kathleen Scott on Jul 20, 2010

    A friend gave me a large bulb last year, saying it was given to her and she didn’t know what it was but she thought I’d want it.

    I thought it might be a crinum and I did want it, in spite of drought and deer. Built it a good bed with real soil. Watered carefully. The foliage suffered from cold but came back in spring and at the beginning of summer it bloomed a white flower that reminded me of spider lily. But before I could get out to take a picture of the bloom, the deer ate it. I’m hoping I don’t have to wait another year for a bloom…


    Linda reply on July 21st, 2010 9:10 am:

    Kathleen, that sounds like a hymenocallis from your description of the flower. It will be another year for it to bloom. How big are the leaves?


  9. By Dee @ Red Dirt Ramblings on Jul 22, 2010

    That red crinum is exquisite. Yes, they sometimes take forever to bloom.~~Dee


  10. By Vertie on Jul 27, 2010

    That purple heart along 45th is part of singer/songwriter Patty Griffin’s garden. Her backyard is supposed to be wonderful too. Why not you invite yourself in for a tour and then show it to the rest of us?


    Linda reply on July 27th, 2010 5:17 pm:

    Wow! I didn’t know that! You bet, I’ll go put my card on her door! Thank you! What a major kick.


  11. By Michele on Aug 10, 2010

    And here I thought I was the only one going ga-ga over that garden on 45th. I really, really wanna steal that same combo of Purple Heart/Ponyfoot. That whole place is dreamy!


    Linda reply on August 11th, 2010 5:52 pm:

    Yes, and thanks to Vert, I think I know who the owner is. Plan to follow this up. I adore that spot.


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