Bulbs for Partial Shade, South and North

In her weekly column in South Carolina’s Greenville News, Marian St. Clair offers good advice for shade gardeners everywhere — and recommends several of our bulbs that she’s planting this fall.

“Spring-flowering bulbs grow and bloom from energy stored within the bulb the previous year,” Marian explains.

“For repeat bloom, gardeners must maintain nutrient-rich and moist soil conditions to nurture the bulb until foliage dies back and the bulb becomes dormant.” It’s also critically important, she adds, that bulb foliage receive “the maximum amount of sunlight. For success, shade gardeners should select bulbs that flower early, so foliage has time to restore energy to the bulb before trees produce a new crop of leaves.”

For her zone-8, South Carolina garden, Marian writes that she’s “especially excited about a pair of early-blooming daffodils from Old House Gardens. . . . ‘Early Pearl’, a tazetta . . . rediscovered in an old garden in our region’s ‘Spanish moss belt,’ [and] Campernelle; a tried-and-true heirloom grown for more than 400 years. . . . This fragrant yellow daffodil looks like a wildflower compared with many of the new, chunkier hybrids . . . and its slightly twisting petals remind me of a child’s pinwheel.”

Other shade-tolerant heirlooms from us that she’s planting this fall — all of which are good north through zone 5 as well — include Crocus tommasinianus, “a lavender beauty known as the best crocus for the South,” white Spanish bluebell, giant snowdrop, and Trillium grandiflorum.