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Nothing is impossible, or at least it is not impossible to have a flowered balcony in the month of October, when the memory of spring is now far away and everything leads us to think that nature is going to rest and will only be alive towards March. This is also thanks to Sternbergia, a very original plant that has in its characteristics that of flowering at the end of the year or almost, as few expect it, only the best connoisseurs of nature. Or pathological optimists.
We are facing, as we will soon see, a small bulbous with golden-yellow petals that is quite easy to recognize even in the middle of the verdant vegetation. Moreover, there are not many plants that bloom in autumn and this makes recognition even easier.
Sternbergia or Zafferanone: characteristics
Also known by the name of yellow saffron, this plant belongs to the category of bulbous plants, has small dimensions and produces golden yellow flowers. His family is that of Amaryllidaceae, remains low and goes well in flower beds and gardens, as well as on balconies, to give a touch of color in a season when it is not easy to create it. Its maximum height is 20 cm.
The leaves are a beautiful bright green, have a linear, ribbon shape, and a fleshy and soft texture cut in the center by a groove. The life cycle of this plant is undoubtedly particular. In summer the Sternbergia begins to appear, the flowers towards the end of the summer, and then remain in winter and disappear in early spring. They are flowers with golden petals that withstand a lot over time, even if they suffer the effect of bad weather, they resemble a crocus but they have six stamens instead of the classic three.
Sternbergia or Zafferanone: how to use it
One of the most important things to know before choosing to use this plant is that its bulbs are poisonous! It remains the same one bulbous desired, above all thanks to its golden flowers, which is why it is widely used, for example, to color flower beds towards autumn, or to decorate gardens and courtyards so that with the end of the summer they do not turn into a very sad spectacle.
In the classic mixed borders of perennial herbaceous plants or even moles rock gardens or in the balcony pots, alternate it with spring bulbs that rest when this plant is instead in full splendor
Sternbergia or Zafferanone: how to grow it
First of all, let's start getting some bulbs of Sternbergia lutea. It is not a mission impossible, we can ask for them in the most well-stocked garden centers without them giving us crazy. If we prefer, we can also search for them online on Amazon if they are found. Proceeding live, however, we can have the opportunity to check the quality of what we are paying. To make sure that we are given promising bulbs, we need to check their turgidity. They must be fresh and of the right weight, with no trace of rot or dry parts.
The soil in which to insert it is better to be permeable, even poor and stony. It is also to be hoped that humid and rainy summers will not occur because they could seriously endanger our plants. The risk is related to the attacks of fungi responsible for the rot of the bulbs themselves.
When we have worked the soil properly we can plant our bulbs. Essential, precisely to avoid rot and fungus, that the hole is well drained. Usually it is filled with pebbles or expanded clay so that no unexpected stagnations are created. When we place the bulb in its cavity we verify that it is placed deep, about double the diameter underground.
The time to do this is there end of the summer. Depending on the climate, we can possibly also wait for the beginning of autumn but only very carefully so as not to miss the moment. If we are using Sternbergia in the garden, it is better to plant it irregularly, to give a more spontaneous effect. We avoid too regular or symmetrical arrangements. After planting, wet well but then it is no longer necessary to take care of it because in most cases meteoric rains are enough and a greater quantity of water could harm.
Sternbergia or Zafferanastro: ownership
The most interesting property of this plant is certainly linked to its beauty flowering out of season. Once the show is over, we must not cut the green leaves before they dry by themselves because chlorophyll photosynthesis would be blocked and therefore reserves to accumulate in the bulb.
If we want Sternbergia to continue to flourish in the colder months, we can help you with some covers. During a winter it is important to know which is best extract the bulbs from the earth as soon as all the leaves have turned yellow and place the bulbs, summarily cleaned of soil residues, in dry environments and then replant them at the end of the following summer. If, on the other hand, the climate is less harsh, we can leave the plants without particular protection and they will still flower stubbornly.