Get back to gardening in February with plant bulbs, tubers and roots

Get back to gardening in February with plant bulbs, tubers and roots

California’s lowlands are warming up and spring is in the air. It’s time to get back to gardening!

Below is a list of bulbs, tubers and rhizomes to be planted in late February. Information comes from the Sacramento bulb planting schedule. A print-friendly version can be found at

Amaryllis belladonna, “Naked Lady” – A bulb that blooms in summer. February to mid-March is a good time to divide amaryllis or bare lady bulbs. Lift and divide the clumps every few years, but be careful. It may not bloom if it is moved at the wrong time. Keep as much of the root mass intact as possible and plant about 1 foot apart. Make the bulb planting depth equal to the soil surface or slightly higher. Native to South Africa, it has fragrant, trumpet-shaped flowers and thrives well in areas with warm, dry summers. They get all the moisture they need from winter rains.

Zantedeschia, Calla (white) or (dwarf color) – Spring, summer and fall blooming rhizome. Native to South Africa, it is not a true lily, and this rhizome can be grown from October to April. They prefer light shade, need year-round moisture, and can also be grown in large containers. The planting depth for white callas is 4-6 inches, and colored cannas 2 inches deep. Water in late summer to encourage dormancy, then cut each stem back to the ground after each bloom.

Canna, or canna lily – Summer and autumn blooming rhizome. Not a true lily, these plants have flowers that range in color from pale yellow to orange to blood red and colors in between, with large foliage 8-10 feet long, and grow best in full sun in your garden, or don’t. Well in a large pot cut each stem to the ground after each flowering. They can be dug up and divided in the spring or propagated by seed in the fall. Planting depth 2-4 inches, spaced 18-24 inches. They tend to be a thirsty plant and do best with regular watering.

Crocodile – Spring and summer blossom. Flower well cut, plant 2 inches deep, 3 inches apart. Another native to South Africa, it is related to the freesia, which are small red, orange or yellow flowers that bloom in late spring or early summer. Only divide when the plant’s vigor begins to decline, not when it is healthy.

Dahlia – Tuberous root that blooms in summer and fall. Plant tubers from February to May, 3 inches deep, with small tubers spaced 12-24 inches apart; Large tubers spaced 4-5 feet apart. Plant with the eyes facing up, and when hanging tall varieties, make sure the “eye” just touches the stake.

Gladiolus – Spring, summer and autumn blossom. A gardener’s and hummingbird’s favorite, the multicolored blooms of tulips are gorgeous. Plant corms at 1-2 week intervals for a consecutive flowering period of 4-6 weeks through late spring and early summer. Plant four times deeper than the height of the corm. Small worms should be spaced 4 inches apart; Large worms 6 inches apart. Mangrove clumps will naturalize easily and should be divided in the fall every few years.

lily – Bulb that blooms in summer and fall. Plant in February through March, or September through October. Planting depth for small bulbs – 2-3 inches; Medium bulbs 3-4 inches; 4-6 inches for large bulb. Planting depth 12 inches. Many species and hybrids are available with variable flowering times. Except for natives that suffer from drought in the summer, they need moisture all year round.

Tigridia – A bulb that blooms in summer. The planting time for tigridia, or tiger flower, is February. Beware, gophers love to eat these delicious bulbs. Planting depth 2-4 inches, spacing 2-4 inches.

Tuberose – Rhizome blooms in summer and fall. Plant from February to April 2 inches deep and 2-6 inches apart. Native to Mexico, tuberose’s candied flowers only bloom at night, and are often used as a scent note in perfumes. They need full sun and good mulch to keep their roots moist, and they also need medium to heavy nutrients. Divide every three to five years after flowering has finished and the foliage has begun to die off, but do not cut back before the leaves die or the bulb will not have the stored nutrients to survive until the following spring.

Zephranthes, Zephyr flower or fairy lily bulbs – It blooms in late summer and early fall, and can be planted at any time. Varieties are available that are white and sometimes pink-throated, bright yellow or pink. Divide in the fall after flowering.

Do you have a gardening question? Call San Joaquin UC Master Gardeners at 209-953-6112. More information can also be found on our website

You may also like...

Leave a Reply