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What Perennials Can I Use With Lantana To Extend The Blooming Period?

Ask the Expert: lantana groupings
Last year I created an octagon flower bed with lantanas that looks wonderful when in bloom, but they bloom so late in the season that the bed looks empty now. What can I plant in the bed with them that will come back year after year? I live in Eclectic, AL, close to Montgomery, the bed receives full sun, & the soil is mostly red clay with potting soil in the plant hole. Jennifer

If you want something blooming every season, you will need to plant several different kinds of plants.
For winter blooming, I suggest Helleborus orientalis (Lenten Rose) which grows to about 15″.
For early spring blooming, I suggest Phlox subulata (Moss Phlox) which will need to be at the front of your bed since it will only get about 4-6″ in hgt but will spread.
For late spring try Stokesia laevis (Stoke’s Aster) which will grow to about 15″ in height. Kniphofia uvaria (Red Hot poker) with blooms that can be 3′ height.

You can also plant tulips and daffodils in the bed with the lantana for late winter/early spring blooming. Since lantana last well in to the late fall I would bother with a fall blooming perennial unless you want to plant chrysanthemums.

Good luck and keep me posted on your garden’s progress. I would love to see pictures of it as it progresses.

Tulips and Flowers Bring a Breath of Spring

General Tulips

It may seem to be a bit early in the season for tulips, but spring flowers are already making their appearance at your local florist shop. Late winter is prime production time for the growers who provide these bulb-bursting beauties for our enjoyment, and the choices are never more abundant. Some varieties of tulips have become available year round, but the peak season with the widest selection is right now. Vase life varies according to conditions, but you can help keep your tulips living longer by following a few simple tulip care guidelines:

Care and Handling For Tulips

  • Re-cut tulips about 1″ from the bottom with a sharp knife. Cut above the lower white, or etiolated, part of the tulips to maximize water uptake.
  • Remove foliage from tulips which may be below the water line.
  • Rinse tulips to remove any remaining soil, which can pollute the water.
  • Place tulips into a solution of commercially prepared flower nutrient and water at room temperature.
  • Keep tulips in a cool, draft-free environment, especially at night.

Flower Care Tips: Tulips as well as all spring flowers benefit from being removed from their arrangements and having their stems re-cut every few days. Interestingly, tulips continue to grow and elongate after they’re cut, often stretching toward a light source.

Interesting Facts About Tulips and Spring Flowers

Red Tulips

There are many different types of tulips on the market from which to choose, including variegated tulips, bi-color tulips, fringed petaled tulips, lily flowered tulips, and parrot varieties, as well as the so called “peony flowered” types, which have double the usual amount of petals. “Angelique” is one such double tulip which has lovely soft pink petals. For pictures of tulips and other spring flowers click here.

Tulips look great arranged with other spring flowers, such as hyacinths, iris, daffodils, anemones, and freesias. Be careful when combining daffodils or other Red Tulips types of narcissus with other flowers. They release a syrupy sap when they’re freshly cut which is damaging to other blossoms. Always place daffodils in a separate vase for at least twelve hours after cutting, allowing the sap to drain before mixing them with other spring flowers.

Even though the new leaves have yet to emerge on the trees in your neighborhood, you can introduce a breath of spring to your home by picking up a bouquet of fresh spring flowers from your local florist today. Better yet, send spring flowers to someone you love!