Exotic Purple Bulbs Are Fun to Grow

Valentine combo includes Cyclamen, Alocasia, Begonia, Plectranthus, a stem of
Hippeastrum  'Lime Flare' in a vase, and a little Valentine dog.
     The same Cyclamen on Dec. 28, 2015                          
Adding lights to my indoor gardening repertoire has really given me lots of options. The SunBlaster components really opened up a whole new winter world for me.

I dove into the exotic bulb world and purchased some unusual bulbs that promised winter to early spring blooms.

I also bought two Cyclamen plants in full bloom in mid-December, and guess what? They're still in bloom! Usually by this time, they've not only gotten tired of pumping out blossoms, they apparently just plain got tired of being alive. The lights go a long way toward keeping them alive and growing.

About a month before I brought home the Cyclamen (mid-November), I planted six bulbs of Scilla madierensis. I was so excited about them I ordered three each from Longfield Gardens and Easy to Grow Bulbs. Before you decide to try these, you need to know they've sold out and will hopefully be available again in the late summer/early fall.

Dec. 28, 2015
This bulb is home to the island of Madeira off the coast of Morocco. It's related to hyacinth, and flowers in its natural location in the fall. But since I didn't plant the bulbs until mid-November, they gave me a great show from late December until now, pretty much.
By Jan. 6, I had two flowering stems.

They seemed to stage themselves, the first flower showing up slowly right around New Year's, and the stem on the last bulb just beginning to unfurl and show its flowers.

I might have had earlier flowers, but for a bag of wet potting soil that I purchased in September. When it came time to plant the Scilla bulbs, I opened it up and found it was wringing wet. I scooped out a large potful and spread it out on a flat and put it on a heat mat for two days and it still didn't dry. I put it back in the bag and tried to return it to the garden center, but all the bags were wet there, too.
LESSON LEARNED: don't buy wet potting soil, even if it's still very warm out. I won't be buying soil from this particular garden center. I will only buy potting soil if the bag is light and dry. I'll add my own moisture, thank you.

Unfurled to maximum size on Jan. 17, this
Scilla makes a good companion to
Amaryllis 'Amputo'.
Scilla madierensis likes excellent drainage, and prefers to have its neck and "shoulders" above the soil line. I planted the bulbs in a mixture of Happy Frog Potting Soil, some pine bark fines (I used Orchiata from Josh's Frogs), and a handful of coarse poultry grit. I also use some of the grit on the soil's surface near the base of the bulb to give it support.


  1. I have seen these scillas popping up on blogs more and more often.They sure are pretty. I like the comparison to the amaryllis too. Cyclamen are just one of my favorite potted plants. I rarely see them offered around here anymore. I don't think I have ever seen one that deep pink shade. Lovely.

    1. Thanks, Lisa. I can't wait to see how they'll do next fall.