Burnett: Spring bulb advertising can sometimes be misleading

It is that time of year when I see the signs up in front of the garden centres saying that spring bulbs have arrived. 

Of course, they don’t really mean bulbs because other than lilies, everything else is either a corm as in gladioli, a tuber as in begonia, a rhizome as in canna lily or a tuberous root which is what a dahlia is. 

But I guess it’s just as easy to call them all bulbs. 

All joking aside, I love to get in when the stock first arrives when they are the freshest. 

In particular, it is very important to get the lily bulbs early. They can be planted as soon as the ground can be dug. 

If you wait until April, chances are they will be past their best and even quite useless for any kind of showing. 

Now is the time as well to pick up a few begonia tubers and start them in potting soil on the windowsill. 

Do this and you will have an unbelievable show all summer long in the shade garden along with the hostas and other woodland species.

Dahlia roots and cannas can be started early (mid-March) in one gallon pots to get a jump on things. 

They can be put out on warm sunny days and brought in if frost is expected. 

A great trick with dahlias is to take a cutting of the new growth after it reaches about six inches. 

They root very easily and you can get more bang for your buck.

This also makes the parent plant much bushier.


As you read this column, I will be on a tour bus to Seattle loaded with my gardening friends as we all anticipate a wonderful trip to the North West Flower and Garden Show in Seattle. 

With over 120 seminars to choose from and over a dozen large landscape displays to offer ideas, I will come home with lots to tell you over the next few weeks. 


There are still a few seats available in my classes held at the UBCO campus:

Pruning: Saturday, March 5, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Trees and Shrubs (woody ornamentals): Saturday, March 12

Plants and Flowers (herbaceous ornamentals): Saturday, March 19

Roses: Saturday, March 26

Home Landscape design: Saturday, April 2

For more information or to register call the folks at UBCO, 250-807-9289, or go to  www.ubc.ca/okanagan/continuingstudies.

Also check out my You Tube super-fast landscape project by googling Random Acts of Creativity-Horticulture.

Tune in to The Don Burnett Garden Show on AM 1150 News Talk Sports Saturday mornings from 8 to 10 a.m.