When Should Gardeners Plant Tulip Bulbs?

Fall Bulbs
Fall is the best season for planting tulip bulbs.

Tulip bulbs should be planted in fall. But timing it exactly right can be tricky, because there’s no set date for when to start planting tulip bulbs.

Instead, watch the weather. Wait to plant until nighttime temps are consistently 40 or 50 degrees. In the North, that usually means sometime in late September or October. Southern gardeners may need to wait until late winter or artificially chill their bulbs.

Your local university extension office may be able to help you time tulip bulb planting correctly for your plant zone.

Discover fascinating tulip facts you don’t know.

How to Store Tulip Bulbs Properly

Tulip Bulbs In Paper Bag On White Background
Store tulip bulbs in a paper bag

“How long do daffodil and tulip bulbs last when they are stored in a paper bag and kept in a cool place?” asks Field Editor Juli Seyfried of Grove City, Ohio.

Horticultural expert Melinda Myers says, “Many gardeners dig up spring-flowering bulbs once the bulbs go dormant, to store them in a cool, dark place during summer before replanting in fall. If purchasing bulbs, place about six in a perforated or paper bag and overwinter them in a cool, dark location or the refrigerator before planting in spring. All these bulbs usually remain viable and suitable for planting when the storage conditions are favorable. Always check stored bulbs before planting—they should be firm and free from soft, discolored areas.”

Discover the top 10 types of tulips to plant in your garden.

How to Plant Tulip Bulbs in 4 Easy Steps

Red Species Tulip Botanical
A species tulip in bloom

Once the temps drop into the 40s and 50s but are still above freezing, it’s time to plant your tulips. Follow these easy steps for spring success.

These pretty pictures of tulips will make you dream of spring.

1. Pick the Right Spot for Tulips

when to plant tulip bulbs
Put your tulips in a sunny spot.

After you buy your tulip bulbs online or at the garden center, find an area with full sun. That means the spot should get more than six hours of direct sunlight a day. Some afternoon shade is preferable in hot climates, but it is not necessary.

2. Prep the Soil for Bulbs

Loosen about a foot of soil. This helps the soil to drain better and helps prevent bulb rot. If your soil is not well-draining, consider adding compost or other amendments to improve the flow of water.

Are tulip flowers and bulbs toxic to cats?

3. How Deep Should You Plant Tulip Bulbs?

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Place tulip bulbs in the soil pointing up

Plant each bulb (pointy side up!) in a hole that’s three times as deep as the bulb is tall, or about 6 to 8 inches. Leave 4 to 5 inches between each tulip bulb for a dense but not overcrowded planting.

Here’s how to plant allium bulbs for gorgeous spring flowers.

4. Top Bulbs With Soil

Planting tulip bulbs in soil with garden tools
Plant bulbs in well-draining soil

Once everything is settled, lightly pack down the soil to cover the bulbs. Water well to kick-start the bulb’s growth. If next spring is very dry, saturate the soil to give the bulbs a boost. Wait until next fall to water again.

Check out 10 of the best daffodil bulbs to plant.

Planting Tulip Bulbs in Containers

Stone trough full of red tulips against brick wall.
For even more spring beauty, plant tulips in pots.

Tulips look fantastic in containers—plus, you can move the bright blooms wherever you’d like.

If you decide to plant in a pot, follow the same instructions as planting tulip bulbs in the ground. Gardeners in Zones 3 to 7 may need to bring pots into an unheated basement or garage for protection against frost in winter.

Daffodils not blooming? Here’s what to do.

Select a Variety of Tulips for Continuous Blooms

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Black parrot tulip

Extending the bloom time of your tulips is easier than you think! Just mix different species and cultivars. Many types have different flowering times.

For a seamless transition between spring and summer, combine the tulips with summer-blooming bulbs such as lilies, alliums or gladioluses.

Psst—you’ll fall in love with White Honeymoon tulips.

Keep Animals Away From Tulip Bulbs

Close-Up Of Squirrel On Field
Plan ahead to protect your bulbs from squirrels

Once you plant them, keeping squirrels from digging up bulbs is tricky. Tulip bulbs and shoots are also a tasty treat for voles, chipmunks and more in winter.

To protect them, surround the bulbs with a 1/2-inch wire mesh cage or bulb basket. Most rodents won’t be able to access your treasures, and the spring sprouts should emerge from the mesh just fine.

Next, discover 5 deer-resistant bulbs for spring blooms.

What Does a Red-Headed Woodpecker Look Like?

male and female woodpecker
Male and female red-headed woodpeckers at their nesting site

Flashing rich crimson, jet black and ivory white—the same bold colors found on a classic deck of cards—the red-headed woodpecker contrasts with the muted colors of its habitat.

“The red-headed woodpecker has very distinctive, large color patches with no variegating, striation or striping,” says Emma Greig, project leader at Project FeederWatch. This beautiful bird has a red head, a snow white body and inky black wings with white patches.

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Female feeding a juvenile red-headed woodpecker

Both males and females sport the bold, bright colors. They measure 9-1/4 inches long with a wingspan of 17 inches.

Many woodpeckers have some red on their heads, including the common red-bellied woodpecker. Birders often mix up these similarly named birds. But the red-headed is one of the few with a full head of scarlet. The red-bellied woodpecker has a red crown and nape.

Not sure if you’re looking at a red-headed woodpecker or not? Learn how to identify more North American woodpecker species.

Juvenile Red-Headed Woodpeckers

juvenile red-headed woodpeckers

“Two springs ago, these birds (above) greeted us at our feeders. We think they’re juvenile red-headed woodpeckers. Is that correct?” asks reader Robert Tripp of Effingham, Illinois.

Birding experts Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman say, “Yes, you’ve got it. This can be a tricky ID, too. Since adult red-headed woodpeckers wear a simple design of solid black, white and red, it’s surprising to see all the intricate markings of brown on the juveniles.

However, that brown pattern probably makes good camouflage, especially when they’re sitting against tree trunks, still learning to watch for danger.

Juvenile red-headed woodpeckers don’t develop red on the head until sometime in their first fall or winter, and they may not have complete adult plumage until they are more than a year old.

Did you know: These baby woodpeckers leave the nest when they are about 27 days old.

What Do Red-Headed Woodpeckers Eat?

red headed woodpecker

This brilliant bird is a rare sight at backyard feeders in the cooler months, but they will eat cracked sunflower seeds and suet. It’s more common to see them foraging on the ground or on tree trunks. They eat insects, corn, nuts (acorns, beechnuts and pecans, especially), and fruits such as apples, berries, cherries, pears, grapes, mulberries and even poison ivy fruits.

Attract more woodpeckers with their favorite foods.

Catching and Storing Food

Red-headed woodpeckers have the ability to catch insects while in flight. They can wedge live grasshoppers so tightly into crevices that the bugs are unable to break free. According to Cornell, this species is one of only four North American woodpeckers known to store food. Red-heads hide seeds, insects and other food in fence posts or under roof shingles.

Learn about another woodpecker that caches food: the acorn woodpecker.

How to Attract Red-Headed Woodpeckers

A red-headed woodpecker in fall with an acorn in its mouth.
A red-headed woodpecker in fall with an acorn in its mouth.

Keep dead trees around for as long as it’s safe to do so to entice these beauties to your backyard. You can also draw them in with deciduous woodlands with an understory for nesting and foraging.

Learn why woodpeckers peck and how to stop them.

Nest and Eggs

Red-headed woodpeckers are cavity nesters. They excavate a hole in live or dead trees, fence posts or utility poles. The female lays four to seven white eggs.

Learn how to tell the difference between downy and hairy woodpeckers.

Red-Headed Woodpecker Call

Listen to the red-headed woodpecker’s call. It sounds like a harsh “queeah, queeah, queeah.”

Bird songs provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Learn how to identify a ladder-backed woodpecker.

Conservation Concerns

red-headed woodpecker

According to the North American Breeding Bird Survey, this species has experienced a cumulative decline of 70 percent between 1966 and 2014. Deforestation and habitat loss throughout its range are attributed to the decline of these birds.

Discover mind-blowing woodpecker facts you should know.

Red-Headed Woodpecker Range Map

Red-headed woodpeckers are found year-round within much of their range. But the species makes small migratory movements to winter grounds in southeastern states.

Red-headed Woodpecker Bird Species

Range maps provided by Kaufman Field Guides, the official field guide of Birds & Blooms.

Next meet the sapsucker birds: woodpeckers with a sweet tooth.

Are Garden Mums the Same as Florist Mums?

Dark pink mums

If you’ve ever been at a garden center and looked at a tag on a beautiful chrysanthemum plant (Chrysanthemum morifolium), you might see it labeled as a garden mum, hardy mum, florist mum or pot mum. It’s time to break down the differences between these common types of mums. Plus, learn how to best care for both garden mums and florist mums.

Psst—here’s why you shouldn’t plant mums in fall.

Garden Mums Are Perennials

Tribeca Amber Orange garden mum
Tribeca Amber Orange garden mum

A garden mum is sometimes referred to as a hardy mum. Garden mums are typically grown as hardy perennials in garden beds or in pots. Hardy in Zones 4 to 9, they’re a great pick for mass plantings.

If you want to grow these mums, you should plant them in spring after the last frost or in the fall six weeks before the first killing frost. Keep in mind that they will grow up to 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide.

Garden mums require at least five or six hours of sun per day and well-draining soil.

Looking for other colorful autumn blooms? heck out the best fall flowers (that aren’t mums).

Florist Mums Are Annuals

Chatham Orange pot mum
Chatham Orange pot mum

Also known as a pot mum, a florist mum is typically sold as an annual to use as fall decorations in containers or as gift plants.

These blooms, with their long overlapping petals, typically last six to eight weeks. When you’re shopping for florist mums, be sure to buy plants that have lots of closed buds so you’ll be able to enjoy more blooms later on. In addition, you’ll want to water these mums often to keep them happy.

If you’re looking for florist mums with a lot of pop, pick Artistic Armin for its pink petals lined with white or the bright red Cardinal Time.

Fall in love with Jacqueline peach fusion garden mums.

Can Mums Survive the Winter in Pots?

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Frost on mums

“I have a beautiful mum plant. Is there a way to keep it in my home throughout the cooler winter months?” asks Birds & Blooms reader Mary Moore of Wautoma, Wisconsin.

Horticultural expert Melinda Myers: It is challenging to keep a mum growing indoors over the winter. Mums purchased in full bloom in the fall are often referred to as garden mums. These may be either perennial mums or “florist” mums forced to flower for fall displays, which are best as annuals. But you can try growing potted mums in a sunny window or under artificial lights. Water when the top inch of soil is starting to dry.

If you have a hardy mum, you may want to try overwintering it outdoors. Mums sold as perennials are hardy enough to survive in the zones noted on the plant tag and will flower in late summer or early fall, providing weeks of color in the garden. These are often sold alongside other plants labeled as perennial or promoted as hardy for the area. If you determine your mum is hardy, you can plant it in the garden or sink the pot in the ground in a sheltered location.

Because blooming hardy mums planted in fall are expending energy on flowering instead of producing a robust root system, it’s a good idea to cover them with straw or evergreen boughs for added insulation once the ground freezes.

Next, learn how to grow and care for New England asters.

How to Identify a Diana Fritillary Butterfly

diana fritillary

“A butterfly that I’ve never seen before landed on my purple coneflowers. What is it?” asks Birds & Blooms reader Mandy Dime of Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman: This is a visitor that’s guaranteed to be the envy of all avid butterfly watchers. The Diana fritillary is a very uncommon species that flies in summer in a limited range in the southern Appalachians and in the Ozarks. This black and orange individual is a male.

Meet the gorgeous great spangled fritillary butterfly.

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A blue colored female looks very different than the male.

The female butterfly has a similar wing pattern but the orange color is replaced by blue and white. As with other species of large fritillaries, their caterpillars feed on the leaves of violets.

Attract gulf fritillary butterflies with their favorite plants.

Diana Fritillary Pictures

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“This is a special shot because it was my first time to see the Arkansas state butterfly, which is rare to see near my home in Faulkner County,” says reader Susan Y.

Learn how to attract and identify a queen butterfly.

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“While visiting the Cataloochee Valley in North Carolina this August, I was awed by the beautiful wildflowers and butterflies. This male Diana fritillary especially caught my eye. It was the first time I had every seen one. I had to do a little research to identify it. I was surprised to discover its coloration is totally different from the female. It does not resemble other species of butterflies,” says Kathryn Herndon.

See 3 butterflies that look like monarchs.

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“On a warm and humid early July morning, I saw this male Diana fritillary, the Arkansas state butterfly, sipping nectar from a wild purple coneflower,” says Darin Swinney.

Next, discover 7 small butterflies you should never overlook.

Why Do Birds Molt Their Feathers?

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American goldfinch in nonbreeding plumage.

Birds are the only living species with feathers, so it only makes sense that feathers have some one-of-a-kind features. The structure of feathers is strong and durable, yet they are lightweight and flexible. And although feathers do wear out, birds molt them by regrowing new ones. Often this natural process goes unnoticed, but bird molting patterns are fascinating.

“Molt is my favorite,” says Annie Lindsay. As the bird banding program manager at Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Powdermill Nature Reserve in southwestern Pennsylvania, she gets an up-close look at the process on thousands of birds annually.

How do birds fly? Get answers to common questions about birds.

Bird Feather Types

Juvenile Bald Eagle 56a9326 Copy
Based on feather patterns, this bald eagle is less than 4 years old.

Not all feathers serve the same purpose. According to Annie, specific feathers are essential for everything from flight to keeping birds warm. “Flight feathers on the wings and tails are longer and somewhat stiffer,” she says. The shape of the wing provides lift, and tails serve as rudders for birds. Body feathers, including down and contour feathers, help birds regulate their temperatures.

“Birds puff up their feathers to conserve heat,” Annie says. “It’s like when we get goose bumps on our arms.”

Another specialized feather type is found along the beaks of flycatchers and other insect eaters. These rictal bristles look like whiskers and likely have a sensory function, Annie says.

Bald Eagle Mg 7354 Copy Highres
Eagles molt some flight feathers after breeding season. The National Eagle Repository collects feathers and then distributes them to permit-holding Native Americans who use them in traditional ceremonies.

Feathers can be extremely fancy or ridiculously plain. Either way, they are also a way for birds to communicate with one another.

What makes hummingbird feathers so shimmery?

Bird Molting Patterns

Mallard Drake Duck
This male mallard has already replaced its flight feathers and is coming into its breeding plumage.

Variations of bird molting scenarios are endlessly complex within species. But Annie provided a glimpse into the general basics for songbird molts. After hatching, young birds grow juvenile plumage.

“Since all of the feathers are growing in at the same time, not as many resources can be used per feather,” Annie says. “These juvenile feathers are of lower quality.”

Young birds then replace their juvenile plumage with feathers in better condition. Most species will replace all feathers on their bodies almost a year later.

For bird-watchers, some species can pose tricky identifications because younger birds don’t always look like adults. Young red-headed woodpeckers have brown heads, for example. Similarly, young white-crowned sparrows could be referred to as brown-crowned sparrows.

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This patchy summer tanager is 1 year old; the next time it molts, it will wind up with all red feathers.

The annual, or in some cases biannual, molt cycles that species follow allow “feathers to be replaced here and there, so more energy is allocated to each individual feather,” Annie says.

The molting process is relatively quick for North American fliers. “Molt can happen in a matter of a few weeks as birds are preparing for migration or breeding,” Annie says, “Although in the tropics where conditions are relatively uniform, molt can be much slower.”

Summer Tanager
Adult male summer tanager in breeding plumage.

For some species, including tanagers and buntings, new feathers help them look their finest as they try to attract mates in the spring. This could still be the case for birds that don’t undergo drastic color changes.

“Even if we don’t see the differences, birds can see in the UV part of the spectrum, so we might see all brown feathers, while birds might be able to see the contrast between old and new feathers,” Annie says.

Does Molting Hurt Birds?

During a normal molt, “the feathers are ready to drop and are falling out naturally,” Annie says. Feathers are dead tissues, so it isn’t painful if they are broken or when they fall out during molt, but plucking them out could potentially cause some discomfort. Frayed, damaged or broken feathers aren’t replaced, but removed ones, such as when a bird narrowly escapes a predator, will have an impact. “Any time birds lose a feather, replacing it has energetic consequences,” Annie says.

Do mourning dove feathers and wings make noise?

Molting Ducks Are Flightless Birds

During molt, ducks join the ranks of flightless birds. Many waterfowl species replace all their flight feathers at once, which keeps them grounded for a few weeks. Males take on an eclipse plumage and are more camouflaged, like females, during this summer transition.

Can a cardinal fly without tail feathers?

Unique Molt Patterns

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American goldfinches are well-known molting birds. Their appearance changes throughout the year. This bird is in winter plumage.

From piebald patterns to entirely bald heads, molt makes for some interesting-looking birds. American goldfinches are a great example to observe molt.

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Early spring molt

“Brownish in the winter, as they get ready for breeding season, you can watch the transition and see how mottled they look on their bodies,” Annie says. Then the process repeats in the fall as birds molt into their winter feathers.

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American goldfinch in late spring and summer breeding plumage.

This blotchy pattern on the body is also evident on tanagers and bobolinks during certain times of year.

For cardinals and blue jays, bird molting is generally a subtle affair. They don’t look much different between seasons as feathers are swapped out with similar-looking replacements.

molting cardinal
This mystery bird with the odd hairdo is an adult male cardinal. The bald look is sometimes caused by environmental factors like nutritional deficiencies or feather mites, but it’s most commonly the result of molting.

But sometimes molt is impossible to miss, as some individual birds are prone to an “unfortunate pattern of molt baldness,” as Annie puts it. Nothing is wrong with these birds—they’ve just lost all the feathers on their heads simultaneously.

Next, don’t miss inspirational pictures of birds in flight.

What Does a Golden-Fronted Woodpecker Look Like?

Golden Fronted Woodpecker On The Jones Alta Vista Ranch
Look for yellow and red feathers to identify a male golden-fronted woodpecker

Unlike the red-bellied woodpecker, the golden-fronted woodpecker has a clear reason behind its name. One glance at the bird, you’ll spot the gold feathers along the upper part of its beak, and a burst of yellow orange on the back of its head. Males sport red feathers at the crown of their heads, which females lack.

While some might find the golden-fronted woodpecker difficult to tell apart from the red-bellied woodpecker, the surest way to identify it is to look at its head. Red-bellieds feature bright red coloring on the backs of their heads, which you won’t see on golden-fronteds. A glance at the lower belly will also reveal golden feathers, in the case of a golden-fronted, or red feathers, in the case of a red-bellied. However, this field mark can be tricky to spot.

These are the 13 types of woodpeckers birders should know.

Range and Habitat

To spot a golden-fronted woodpecker, you’ll need to head south—to Texas, to be exact. The majority of the bird’s range in the United States stretches through central Texas, although a small portion of the woodpecker’s range extends into Oklahoma. It is nonmigratory and can be seen throughout the year. Four distinct subspecies fall under the category of “golden-fronted woodpecker,” but only the “northern” bird appears in the United States. The rest appear farther south.

Birders can find golden-fronted woodpeckers in a variety of habitats. It wouldn’t be unusual to see them dry, open forested areas, but they’ll appear in urban areas as well.

Downy vs hairy woodpecker: Here’s how to tell the difference.

Golden-Fronted Woodpecker Diet

Woodpecker Feeding
Spread suet on a log for these woodpeckers to enjoy.

As with many woodpecker species, golden-fronted woodpeckers eat a plethora of insects, including spiders, beetles, and ants. They’ll also eat berries and cactus fruit, and nuts, such as acorns and pecans. In winter, they’re often seen feeding on the ground.

Golden-fronted woodpeckers will stop by backyard feeders for any of their favorite foods; try serving sunflower seeds, suet or peanuts to draw them in.

Meet the sapsucker birds: woodpeckers with a sweet tooth.

Nesting Habits

Golden-fronted Woodpecker (female) (melanerpes aurifrons) perched on the trunk of a tree
Female golden-fronted woodpecker perched on the trunk of a tree

These birds are cavity nesters, but they do the work of creating that cavity for themselves. Typically, the nest is located anywhere from 6 to 20 feet off the ground. The female lays a clutch of four to seven eggs, which take about two weeks to hatch. The young birds remain in the nest for about a month. After the young have fledged, the female might have a second brood during nesting season.

What does a baby woodpecker look like?


Branch Confrontation
Golden-fronted woodpecker and a great kiskadee compete for a branch.

It can be difficult to distinguish between a red-bellied and a golden-fronted based on calls alone. Many of the chirps and trills made by a golden-fronted woodpecker sound almost identical to those of the red-bellied, albeit louder. Listen for a high-pitched trill, as well as a repeated, squeaky-sounding chuh-chuh-chuh.

Next, learn how to identify the unique and beautiful northern flicker.

How to Care for a Crinum Lily

Swamp Lily or String Lily (Crinum americanum) Everglades National Park, Florida, USA
Crinum americanum, Everglades National Park, Florida

Botanical Name: Crinum
Growing Zone: 6 to 10 (depending on variety)
Light Needs: Full sun to part shade
Soil: Well-drained
Attracts: Butterflies, hummingbirds, moths

Crinum lilies are a staple of Southern summer gardens, where they bloom in mid- to late summer. In most areas, they can be planted starting in April through October. Crinum lilies bloom best in full sun, although they will also tolerate part shade. If you don’t immediately see flowers from your brand-new crinum lily, don’t fret. They can take a year or two to produce the blossoms many gardeners cherish.

The flowers can have a variety of appearances, too, with some looking more traditionally “lily”-esque, while others have a “spidery” appearance.

Do note that all parts of the plant, including the bulb and foliage, are poisonous.

Find more lilies to add to your garden with our guide to the 10 beautiful lily flowers to love.

Benefits of Growing Crinum Lily

Two favorite backyard visitors, butterflies and hummingbirds, enjoy crinum lily. Other pollinators are also drawn to the flowers.

The plants are generally deer-resistant. But gardeners should watch for other pests like spider mites, grasshoppers, slugs or mealybugs. They may be affected by powdery mildew in warm, humid conditions.

Learn how to grow tropical ginger lilies in your garden.

Ask the Experts: Identifying Crinum Lilies

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Crinum lily plants may take years before they bloom.

“My mystery plant (above) has produced a flower for the first time in 15 years. What is it?” asks Birds & Blooms reader Elaine Comarella of Marion, New York.

Horticultural expert Melinda Myers: Your plant is a type of crinum lily. As you discovered, it takes several years to reach maturity and begin blooming. Grow crinum lilies in a sunny location with moist, well-draining soil. And be patient. Some crinum lilies are hardy and survive winters north of New York City.

Gardeners in cold regions should plant hardier types suited to their climate in a sheltered location. Mulch for winter to increase the chance of overwintering success. Reduce watering once the flowers fade to encourage the plant to enter dormancy.

Some crinum lilies are hardy only to Zones 7 or warmer and need to be moved indoors for winter. Dig the bulbs out of the ground or move the container indoors once the leaves die back. Store in a 50-degree location.

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“This plant (above) blooms twice a year. What is it?” asks Birds & Blooms reader Jeff Adicke of Brunswick, Georgia.

Melinda: How lucky to be able to grow a crinum lily in your yard and enjoy these unique blossoms. Also known as cape lily or cemetery plant, it is hardy in Zones 7 to 10. Crinum lilies prefer full sun and moist soil but tolerate partial shade. They’re also fairly drought tolerant once established. It may take two years for newly planted bulbs to flower, but after four or five years you can divide the plants or remove the offset bulbs to expand your collection. It takes a bit longer for offset bulbs to reach maturity and begin to bloom than divisions.

Crinum Lily Bulbs Not Blooming

crinum lily bulb
Crinum lily bulbs

“What are these plants (above)? The leaves die back but once the weather warms up, they’ll sprout again, though they’ve never bloomed,” asks reader Cynthia Stickler.

Melinda: The bulbs and leaves look like those of a crinum lily. This member of the amaryllis family is native to the tropics and subtropics of Asia, Africa and the Americas. It has been grown in southern landscapes for years and is often used in cemeteries. The plant prefers partial shade but will tolerate full sun if it receives sufficient moisture.

Consider having your soil tested to see what nutrients are needed. Crinum lilies flower best when the soil is kept evenly moist and the plants are fertilized two or three times a year. Adjust your care as needed to encourage these plants to bloom.

Next, discover the differences between daylilies vs true lilies.

Unusual Flower Name

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Find out how this fall flower got a unique nickname.

This one of our fall flower facts might freak you out if you don’t like arachnids. Coreopsis, a native North American flower introduced to Europe in 1699, gets its nickname (tickseed) from the shape of its seeds. Some believe the seeds resemble ticks. Don’t worry, these pretty flowers don’t bite!

Discover 10 things you need to know about chrysanthemums.

Battlefield Medicine

monarch butterfly flowers
Monarch butterfly on marigolds

Marigolds were used during World War I and the Civil War to treat and dress wounds on the battlefields.

Grow these late summer and fall flowers for hummingbirds.

Protection From Storms

There are over 250 different kinds of sedum that are native to many different regions. This plant’s history dates back to the Romans, who grew sedum on rooftops as a lightning deterrent.

Secret Seed Sharing

A French botanist obtained anemone from abroad in the early 1600s, but he refused to share or sell the plants or their seeds. After 10 years of this, a fellow botanist stopped by his garden and “accidentally” dropped his coat on the anemone growing there, picking up seeds in the process.

Check out the best fall flowers to grow (that aren’t mums).

She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not

pansy flower
Look at pansy petals to predict a love match

The Lore of Flowers by Neil Ewart says medieval knights used pansy petals to predict their love lives. A petal with seven lines signaled lasting love.

Can pansies survive frost and overwinter in the garden?

Autumn Crocus as a Cure

Autumn crocus has been used medicinally throughout history. During the Renaissance (between 1300 and 1700), people often wore autumn crocus bulbs around their necks to ward off the plague. In more recent times, the plant has been used to treat gout.

Discover the top 10 bulbs to plant in fall that you aren’t growing yet.

Asters in Mythology

fall flower facts
An American lady butterfly gathers nectar on purple asters.

There are two GrecoRoman myths about asters. In the first, the constellation Virgo sowed the Earth with stardust, which bloomed into asters. In the second, the goddess Astraea wept. Asters bloomed where her tears fell.

After you finish reading these fall flower facts, discover interesting daisy facts you probably didn’t know.

Text courtesy of Wildflower Folklore by Laura C. Martin.

Most birdwatchers can identify common backyard birds. But you’re not alone if shorebirds trip you up. How many of these waders can you identify? Put your shorebird identification skills to the test with this quiz.

Quiz: How many female birds can you identify?

1. Small Threatened Shorebird

Piping plover

Answer: Piping Plover

Look for plover birds both on (and off) the shore.

2. The Loner of the Group

solitary sandpiper

Answer: Solitary Sandpiper

3. Beachcomber With a Bright Bill

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Answer: American Oystercatcher

4. Secretive Swamp Bird

Wilson's snipe

Answer: Wilson’s Snipe

We love these swamp birds! Learn more about how to identify the American woodcock and Wilson’s Snipe.

5. Patterned Plumage

Spotted sandpiper

Answer: Spotted Sandpiper

6. Coastal Shorebird

Willet bird

Answer: Willet

Want to see more beach birds and coastal fliers? Discover the best beach birding locations.

7. Rosy Pink Legs

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Answer: Black-necked Stilt

8. The Ground-Nester

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Answer: Killdeer

Here’s everything you need to know about a killdeer bird.

9. Long-Distance Migrant

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Answer: Dunlin

10. Graceful and Elegant

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Answer: American Avocet

11. Songbird Sized Shorebird

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Answer: Semipalmated Plover

12. Long and Lanky

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Answer: Lesser Yellowlegs

Next, take our caterpillar quiz to see how many types you can identify.