Colchicums are beginning to emerge

– Posted in: Colchicums
Image of partially opened colchicums

The first Colchicum byzantinum of the season

I confess I’ve had my nose pretty close to the grindstone lately, but I decided to take a brief stroll around the house yesterday.

What! Colchicums already? What day is it, anyway? What! September 4th? Already?

Image of flowers emerging from soil between two rocksImage of flowers emerging from lawnLast year I spotted my first one on September 1st. In 2005, it was September 5th. And they were about as far along as these three clumps pictured, which were taken yesterday. So the colchicums are right on time. It’s just me who’s in denial. If you’re a cold climate gardener, this is when you should be planting or moving perennials and shrubs. Don’t dawdle. But if it’s as dry where you are as it is by me, you’re probably waiting and hoping for rain before you get started. Dawdling on account of drought. It’s been happening a lot this year.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

What differentiates a bulb from a perennial plant is that the nourishment for the flower is stored within the bulb itself.…There is something miraculous about the way that a little grenade of dried up tissue can explode into a complete flower.

~Monty Don in The Complete Gardener pp. 142

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Kathy Purdy September 11, 2007, 10:53 am

The melancholy comes a bit earlier, with the blooming of the goldenrod, the first signs of color in the trees, and first dip of nighttime low temps into the 40s (48.4F [9.1C] on 14 Aug). I get depressed thinking about all the garden chores and projects that never got started, or that show signs of never coming to completion.

The colchicums give me something to anticipate, and a reason not to give up–quite yet.

M Sinclair Stevens (Texas) September 10, 2007, 10:54 pm

So you’re getting your first whiff of fall, too. As Annie in Austin said, this was our week for oxblood lilies. For us southerners, the sight means the excitement of new beginnings…because fall is the beginning of our gardening year. Do the colchicums give you a sense of endings…a bit of melancholy?

Annie in Austin September 9, 2007, 5:30 pm

Colchicum used to say ‘September’ to me, too, Kathy- back when I lived in Illinois, but here in Austin it’s the red Schoolhouse lilies that pop up in similar fashion.
As a greedy gardener, I’d like to grow them both, of course!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

kerri September 9, 2007, 2:07 pm

How nice to see the colchicums again Kathy, but yes, it’s that time of year again….already! It sure came fast, didn’t it?
I’ve been itching to move some plants and now maybe with the bit of rain we’ve had, I can begin. Gotta do it…now or never!
I hope you’ve had a good gardening summer 🙂

Don September 6, 2007, 11:03 pm

You know, I saw some pictures from A Brit’s garden, who grew a wide variety of colchicums in pots… it started me thinking about putting the bulbs in pots and sinking them in a bed by themselves for the spring, until the foliage finishes its dying swan act, then plunging the pots in regular perennial beds so they bloom there in the fall. I suppose that’s too much work; maybe i’ll think about it some more after I finish my spring weeding.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter September 6, 2007, 2:07 pm

Thanks Kathy! I am a member of AHS, so I’ll look for the article in the next mag. Keep an eye on the mum, they’re stealthy expansionists.

Kylee September 6, 2007, 1:46 pm

No sign of the colchicums here yet.

But I DO have a good excuse for not moving or planting things yet. (See my post for today entitled, “Excuses, Excuses.”)

Melissa September 6, 2007, 1:24 pm

Don’t dwadle is right. You have great insite from one gardener to another. I look forward to seeing more.

Kathy Purdy September 6, 2007, 6:37 am

Carol and Ellis Hollow, most of my colchicums haven’t made an appearance yet, either. This is just the trickle before the flood.

Kathy Purdy September 6, 2007, 6:34 am

Mr. McGregor’s Daughter, I can’t say I’ve ever had another plant crowd out my colchicums, but I only have one mum and it is twice the size it was last year, so maybe it’s only a matter of time. If you look through my colchicum category in the sidebar, many of my previous posts discuss location. The short version is, I like to plant them in front of catmint, daylilies, and shrubs, and amongst ajuga and other groundcovers.

Look for my article on colchicums in the upcoming (September/October) issue of The American Gardener.

Ellis Hollow September 5, 2007, 8:25 pm

The colchicums you sent haven’t made an appearance yet. I had to sit on my hands last weekend, feeling the urge to move stuff around and put stuff I ended up ‘over-summering’ in pots into the ground. Latest forecast has Friday at 90F, though with a chance of some rain this weekend. Maybe evenings next week I’ll get out the transplant spade. But it’s getting dark so early. Oh well.

Carol September 5, 2007, 6:06 pm

No sign of my colchicums yet. I am resisting the urge to dig down “just a little bit” to see if the bulbs I planted are doing anything.

And I’m not dawdling due to drought! I am in “planting bed prep mode” and I’m getting serious about supplemental watering. I don’t want to go into winter “dry”. Save the shrubs! is my rally call these days.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter September 5, 2007, 12:23 pm

With what do you grow your colchicums? I put 3 next to a mum, but the mum crowded out 2 of them. I’m too late to divide the remaining bulb, but next year, for sure, I’m going to divide it and put more colchicums someplace. It’s in bloom now, & my son has claimed it for his own, calling it his “Happy Colchicum.”