Yay. Fall.

The colchicum are coming and that could mean that fall is approaching.  I say ‘could’ because these “autumn crocus” also come in forms which bloom in the winter and early spring, but most normal people are satisfied with the fall bloomers, and most of the named hybrids with the largest blooms come up at this time of year.  I of course am quite the normal person so shouldn’t have been surprised to come across the first clump of Colchicum x byzantinum shrugging off all the rain and coming into full bloom yesterday afternoon.  It was inspiring.  Instead of sitting on the porch all afternoon thinking about things which should be done, I found a garden fork and started lifting and dividing colchicum clumps.

colchicum byzantinum

Colchicum byzantinum coming up through the foliage of a floppy clump of little bluestem 

Less-normal people might listen to experts who know better, and divide their colchicum in early summer after the foliage dies down, but those experts clearly need more tulips to dig and caladiums to transplant because they obviously have too much time on their hands in July.  I do it now and even if the bulbs (corms actually) have begun to send out roots it’s not the end of the world to disturb them and get them into the spots which are not yet planted up with colchicum.  Actually, as long as I’m confessing faults I might as well admit I’m downright careless with the process and don’t even water in moved bulbs… even if it’s bone dry and fresh roots are sprouting… they don’t seem to mind at all.  I wish more plants were as forgiving.

colchicum byzantinum album innocence

Colchicum byzantinum ‘Innocence’ just starting into growth with no roots present yet.      

Honestly I far prefer moving them now.  It’s instant gratification and you can see how the flowers work with the neighbors, and most importantly you know they’re in a spot where you can see the blooms.  A lot can happen between July and September and usually it involves other plants covering the spot where you thought the colchicums would look perfect.

colchicum byzantinum album innocence

‘Innocence’ with a little more room to spread out.  Better gardeners would add a short groundcover of sedum to better show off the blooms, but one thing at a time please.

The colchicum bulbs looked great btw so I’m hoping for a good show this fall.  Fair warning: you might have to come with me to look at them all in bloom, since a quick review of last year’s posts show less than ten colchicum photos.  Unacceptable!  I need to refocus on my blog’s tagline of “more than you ever wanted to know about my garden”.

Speaking of ‘more than you wanted to know’, last Christmas I did get the new book on colchicums (titled ‘Colchicum: The Complete Guide’, just in case you’re struggling) and after going through it once last winter, I may now take a refresher weekend to brush up on a few things.  I say this to prepare you for all the smart-sounding observations I’ll be peppering my colchicum posts with over the next few weeks, things like why is it ‘x byzantinum’ and not just Colchicum byzantinum…  well it’s because the plant is believed to be a hybrid (hence the x) and not a true species, as writing C. byzantinum would indicate.  Wow.  You’re welcome, and please feel free to correct me as I overconfidently bumble my way through botany.

Hope you have a great weekend!

11 comments on “Yay. Fall.

  1. Way back in 2003 Joe Eck wrote an article about colchicums for Horticulture magazine and if I remember correctly he liked to move them in bloom, too. I think of it as the second best time (from the bulb’s perspective) but the best time for the gardener. The worst time (from the bulb’s perspective) is when it’s in full leaf but I have even done it then in desperate situations and they took longer to recover but they did recover. I either replanted immediately or potted them up–maybe I did both–and if there were any casualties I don’t remember.

    • bittster says:

      Curiously I have also moved them at the absolute wrong time, and here they survived as well. They didn’t do great, but they also didn’t do terrible and when you’re desperate I guess you can move them in leaf and not regret it.
      In my sieve-like mind I sadly do remember reading that Horticulture article. I’ve probably forgotten dozens of names and birthdays to hold on to it, but I do remember his advice to transplant in bloom and something about planting them about in shrub borders if you have that sort of thing I’m guessing. I can’t really imagine a border with just shrubs and no other plants jammed all in there but it probably looks nice and even nicer then with colchicum.
      Can I place my request for either plenty of colchicum posts or plenty of pictures on facebook? I think the world needs lots of colchicum pictures and colchicum talk right now… assuming that same world can deal with the fact they’re poisonous and not need suddenly need to eat them…
      hmmm. I wonder if I could find that article for a re-read.

  2. Eliza Waters says:

    Rules? There are rules?? 😉

  3. Pauline says:

    My colchicums aren’t flowering yet, no sign when I had a look yesterday, but very interesting to see that you move yours when starting to flower, must try that as one clump is getting rather large!

  4. Cathy says:

    It makes sense to move them when you can actually see how they would look in a different spot. I am oblivious to the rules of when to do a lot of things in the garden anyway!

  5. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Oh my gosh, I didn’t realize there are so many different colchicums. I shouldn’t be surprised but surprised I am. I will look forward to reading your post about these diminutive surprise beauties. I have only one variety. It is delightful to find it blooming. Mine usually blooms a little later than now.

  6. I did a little weeding yesterday and discovered that mine are showing a bit of life!

  7. I better go looking to see if any of mine are blooming. Or maybe I killed or moved them all when I was working in that area earlier in the season. I am always seeing where they should be growing so I agree that fall is a great time to move them.

  8. Paddy Tobin says:

    I move the colchicums when the foliage has died down but still present, withered and dry, so it is easy to locate the bulbs. They are wonderful garden plants which I adore. The first are open here: C. ‘Nancy Lindsay’ and C. parlatoris.

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