My zucchini plants look quite healthy but the zucchinis themselves are rotting at the tip. Some have skinny little ends that grow abruptly larger at the stem end of the fruit and are green but grow soft fairly quickly. Others have skinny ends that are yellow and start to rot quickly. What’s wrong?

Most likely, the cause is blossom end rot, the same problem that often besets early tomatoes and peppers. Due to a lack of sufficient calcium, the cure is often proper watering. Without adequate moisture, the calcium can’t be absorbed by the plant and rot results. After such a wet spring, it seems impossible that our gardens might need extra water but they probably do.

All is not lost. Remove the affected fruits and eat the undamaged parts if desired. Once you have established a moist environment, the problem should disappear. Low nighttime temperatures or other environmental stresses can also generate blossom end rot.

If the problem persists, you may have a pH imbalance and it would be worthwhile to have your soil tested. For more information, see

I love the convenience of flowers that come from bulbs. Once planted, they seem to return year after year. However, I’m getting a bit tired of tulips and the other standard plants. Are there alternatives?

You can have bulbs in bloom for most of the growing season and we’re not just talking tulips. Start in the very early spring with galanthus, also known as snowdrops, colorful crocus or the pink, white and blue blooms of chionodoxa or Glory of the Snow. Follow up with early spring blooms of blue or yellow scilla, cheerful golden daffodils and the fragrant cobalt-blue spikes of muscari or grape hyacinth. Mid-spring brings a rainbow of bright hyacinths along with those tulips.

Late spring/early summer showcases Bluebells (Hyacinthoides) which are also available in pink and white as well as the delightful, if oddly shaped blooms of fritillaria. Be cautious when ordering fritillaria as not all varieties are hardy in zone 4. Camassia is a treat with flower stalks that stand 24- to 30-inches tall and display dozens of star-like florets that open in early summer and in a variety of colors. Some growers call this a zone 5 plant while others claim hardiness in zone 4. Likewise, some allium types are hardier than others but the various styles and colors of allium will transition you into the summer lilies. There are way too many varieties of lilies to mention but you can try daylilies, Oriental lilies and Asiatic lilies. All are splendid.

As fall begins to arrive, many of the popular “bulb-type” flowers are beautiful but require the extra work of digging out after frost and replanting in the spring. Look into the canna and calla lilies, dahlias and crocosmia. Longfield Gardens has a helpful chart on when bulbs bloom at

Many of these bulbs will naturalize, spreading nicely over the yard. Most are also unattractive to deer and squirrels. The main problem with bulbs is the foliage that remains after the blooms fade. Intermix some annuals or perennials among the bulbs and their flowers and foliage will hide the browning leaves of your flowering bulbs.

With the exception of the last four mentioned flowers, all of these must be planted in the fall as they need the cold period of a winter in order to generate blooms. Make your choices now and order them while supplies last. For more details see

Beverly Carney can be reached at