True bulbs, corms, rhizomes and tubers all have one thing in common: They each need a dormant or rest period following their time of active growth and bloom. Some bulbs need a summer dormancy (tulip); others rest in winter (canna). You can grow any type of bulb in your garden as long as you provide the right dormant period. That’s why northern zone gardeners dig tender bulbs, such as calla lily or canna—to give them a winter dormancy. Understanding how true bulbs, corms, rhizomes and tubers grow helps you to give these bulb beauties the TLC they need to thrive and blossom, year after year.
Also known as coralbells, heucheras bring season-long color to the garden and vase with their tinted leaves. Look for heuchera in a host of shades, including gold, purple, lime green, burgundy, almost black and silver. In the garden, heuchera is versatile, growing in full sun to full shade. Some varieties have a specific light preference, so be sure to read the plant tag prior to purchase. Use heuchera leaves to add color to arrangements, or pick the airy flower spikes. Blossoms appear from early to midsummer, depending on variety. Deer-resistant plants grow 6 to 8 inches tall by 10 to 12 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 4-9. Good vase companions for heuchera: gas plant, Oriental lily, hosta leaves, zinnia and anise hyssop.
A classic native wildflower, purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) brings a steady stream of color to gardens all summer long. It’s a hearty plant, withstanding full sun, drought and poor soil of all sorts (clay, rocky, shallow). Plant breeders have worked to improve this flower powerhouse by expanding blossom color and form. The result? You can find (no longer purple) coneflower plants in a rainbow of shades, including red, gold, white, orange and pink. This variety is PowWow Wildberry, which unfurls vivid rose-purple blooms. Coneflowers are deer- and rabbit-resistant. Purple coneflower grows 24 to 60 inches tall and 18 to 24 inches wide. Some newer varieties grow shorter. Hardy in Zones 3-8. Good vase companions for purple coneflower: Oriental or Asiatic lily, Russian sage, catmint, hosta and gas plant.