Winter Storage of SUMMER FLOWERING BULBS
HOW TO GROW SPRING FLOWERING
There is no doubt that we must consider the hardiness of bulbs when looking for varieties for our garden. Little research has been done on this; most hardiness estimates are an educated guess. We have customers all across Canada growing bulbs that books would say were impossible. It is far more important to plant your bulbs in the right soil and sun.
bulbs for dry summers
bulbs for moist summers
AUTUMN CROCUS, COLCHICUM
How to Force Bulbs for bloom indoors
Next spring's flowers and the energy to produce roots and foliage is stored deep inside the bulbs you're planting. But you must also consider their requirements for future seasons when you plant this fall. They'll need a rich, well drained soil. Some have special needs and you'll find these listed below.
DRAINAGE, DRAINAGE, DRAINAGE
Regardless of the variety, all bulbs need a well draining soil. Avoid damp soils that may be waterlogged in the winter or spring. The idea soil is a sandy loam. If you have a heavy soil add coarse sand or plant your bulbs in raised beds.
BULBS THAT NEED A DRY SUMMER
There are a number of bulbs that enjoy a moist spring followed by a dry summer “baking”. We can't control rainfall so a very sandy soil will help these bulbs dry out should there be damp spells in the summer. These bulbs are also perfect for xeriscaping (gardening without watering) or gardens at the cottage where drought tolerant bulbs are essential when you’re only gardening occasionally.
allium, eremurus, fritillaria, iris histroides, iris reticulata, oxalis adenophylla, tulips
BULBS THAT PREFER A MOIST SUMMER
These are woodland bulbs that prefer a dappled shade and a “woodsy soil” where they may dry out provided it isn't too hot. They make excellent garden bulbs in the border where their early blooms start the season long before your perennials. In brighter spots they'll need more moisture.
camassia, erythronium, galanthus
Cut your Narcissus when the flower is just opening. You may also wish to cut your Tulips at the same stage of development; just remember not to combine Narcissus and Tulips in the same vase. They donÕt last long if you do.
NATURALIZING BULBS IN YOUR LAWN
Many bulbs are perfectly happy growing in a lawn. Some are native to meadows and can turn an otherwise boring lawn into a springtime show stopper. You must remember to let the foliage ripen and die back before you mow. For Narcissus this is usually 4 - 6 weeks after they flower. Crocus and Scilla flower and ripen earlier allowing an earlier mowing. Plant in clumps or drifts, thinning them towards the edges to give a more natural look. You can cut 3 sides of grass and gently peel back the lawn to expose the soil underneath. Plant your bulbs at their appropriate depth, roll back the lawn, tamp it down and water well.
Crocus, Leucojum, Narcissus, Ornithogalum
Each package of bulbs is labeled with planting depth and light requirements. The following are some extra instructions for those bulbs that need it.
Your Amaryllis bulb will arrive ready to pot up. Plant in a tight-fitting pot (about 1" space between the bulb and pot) with the "shoulder" of the bulb above the soil, using a rich but well-drained commercial potting mix, free of tree bark or fresh manure. Water once, then not again for a week. Until the bud emerges, water very sparingly, keeping the soil barely moist. Once the bud emerges give the plant more water, but let the soil dry out slightly between waterings. Use tepid -- not cold -- water. Grow the bulb at 20 -25 o C and fertilize every two weeks with a balanced fertilizer.
If you are not ready to pot when your bulb arrives, as long as no bud is showing you can keep the bulb in the crisper of your refridgerator (but not in with food) or in any cool dark place between 5 - 10 o C. Never let the bulb freeze. If a bud is showing you must pot up the bulb right away, or the flower bud will be damaged and will not bloom properly.
HOW TO MAKE THEM FLOWER AGAIN
Grow the bulb on outdoors for the summer in a semi-shade location giving it a liquid feeding of 20 - 20 - 20 every 2 weeks. Bring the pot inside about Labour Day, cut off the foliage, place the pot on its side and give it a rest period for 12 weeks in a cool dark spot at about 13 -16 o C. Then clean off the bulb carefully, repot it in new soil, and start it into growth again.
AUTUMN CROCUS, COLCHICUM
Plant now - theyÕre ready to flower. Autumn Crocus & Colchicum come from the mountains of the Mediterranean and Asia where spring and winter are cold and moist followed by hot, dry summers. Dig in plenty of sharp sand if your soil is heavy. Plant in a sunny position.
Colchicum have large, cabbage-like leaves in the early spring which will die back and disappear by mid-summer. Colchicum flowers look fabulous growing through short ground covers.
There are tall fritillaria and short but they all need a soil with lots of sand and leaf mould incorporated. Fritillaria imperialis should be planted at a 45 o angle with the hole oriented to the side. Plant 15 cm. deep in full sun. The taller varieties should have 30 cm. spacing. F. imperialis can occasionally take a “holiday” from flowering with only foliage appearing. However this is usually followed by a spectacular display the next season. MULCH HEAVILY FOR WINTER.
Eremurus like plenty of moisture in the spring followed by a dry summer. They should be planted as soon as you receive it in rich sandy soil and full sun. Soak the root overnight in a pail of water. Prepare the planting site deeply and thoroughly with a mixture of rotted manure and/or compost. Dig a hole large enough to contain the wide, spider-like root. Good drainage is essential so a layer of coarse sand or fine gravel underneath the root will help in heavy soils. Spread the root evenly (with the pointed crown facing upwards) around the hole and gradually fill in with the crown (centre) of the root 15 cm. below the soil grade. Tamp the soil down carefully and mulch with a 30 cm. of leaves or straw. Don't be in a hurry to remove the mulch in the spring until the threat of frost is well past. Eremurus foliage disappears by mid summer. They resent disturbance so mark their spot carefully.
It's best to plant lilies as soon as they arrive. If this is inconvenient, keep the package unopened in your refrigerator. This will avoid drying out before it goes into your garden. Generally lilies like a sunny, well drained location with some shade for the roots if possible. They are very hardy but a good mulch will help them through the winter. Planting depth is 2.5 times the size of the bulb. Dig a hole large enough to allow you to spread out the roots. Fill in the hole, tamp down the soil and water thoroughly. Remove finished blooms but leave the stalk to recharge the bulb for next years flower.
L.martagon, martagon ALBUM, Martagon Hybrids:
These like a “woodsy” soil with good drainage but plenty of organic material. They need an alkaline soil; add some lime to yours if your soil’s acidic. Martagons look best in groups about 25cm (10”) apart.
Narcissus like a full sun position but will still be OK in a part sun situation. As with many spring bulbs, they also need a well drained soil. Soil that remains wet will rot your bulbs. These are long lived perennials so give them a little room between each bulb because they’ll bulk up, producing more flowers. Remove the spent flowers after they’ve bloomed. Check your bag labels for planting depth and spacing.
DRINKING STUNTS GROWTH - How to keep your Paperwhites short
Tired of your WHITE GIANT growing tall and lanky and falling over? Just give them a drink of Alcohol when you water; they’ll stay shorter and bloom beautifully. Unlike many of my friends, WHITE GIANT prefers a clear alcohol (try rubbing Alcohol) at a 4-6% solution (1 part booze to 7 parts water), not beer or wine.
A challenging but utterly beautiful bulb to grow. They MUST have a sharply draining sandy, gritty soil that get full sun. Tecophilia also needs a baking hot, dry summer. Winter snow cover is ideal. We don’t really know the hardiness for sure, but they have persisted for 2 winters in zone 4 and 5. Plant 5cm (2”) deep.
These should be planted AT LEAST 15 - 20 cm. deep measured from the base of the bulb. If you have a hungry squirrel, plant them even deeper and sprinkle a little blood meal in the hole, this seems to turn them off and fertilizes the bulbs. Cayenne Pepper SHOULD NOT BE USED to deter squirrels. They may get this in their eyes and you can well imagine what that would do. The contents of your vacuum sprinkled around your bulbs seems to work. Plant height and bloom time varies according to the variety (see catalogue). To get the best effect plant tulips close together. Do not remove the foliage when the blooms are finished. Allow it to ripen and build energy in the bulb for next years display. Just pull them out when they're finished.
HOW TO GROW BULBS FOR INDOORS
The procedure is known as “forcing”, a rather unfortunate term in that it leaves the impression that it’s hard to do. But take courage, there really isn’t much of a trick to it. All it takes is 1. a touch of foresight and 2. a little patience. A head start on spring , right in your living room.
A touch of foresight
If you pot some a few up at a time over a few weeks you’ll have a steady supply of bloom through the worst part of the winter. Just keep the bulbs in the refrigerator until you need them.
The pot and soil
Almost any pot with a drainage hole will do, clay or plastic, but shallow pots look better. Any loose light general garden soil is OK but the best results come from equal parts mix of soil (or compost), peat moss, and coarse sand. You won’t need fertilizer.
Plant as many bulbs as the pot will hold but they shouldn’t touch each other or the sides of the pot. The tip of the bulb should be just clear of the soil. Water thoroughly.
Now a little patience
(12 - 14 WEEKS OF COLD STORAGE) - After potting up, the bulbs need cold, dark storage for at least 12 weeks to allow the bulbs to grow strong roots. There are several ways to do this. If you have an extra refrigerator, that’s fine (just don't have fruit in the same fridge as ripening fruit gives off ethelene gas which spoils the flowers). A cool dark cellar, or a dark corner of an unheated garage will do nicely. Some people place the pots in a pit in the garden filled with straw or leaves and a board on top. The best temperature is 5oC to 10oC. but don’t let it get below 0oC (it’s OK if pots plunged in a pit eventually freeze). Mark the date on the calendar and check your pots occasionally to make sure they don’t dry out.
Here's the reward
Take a peek at the pots after about 12 weeks. You’ll find the sprouts on the bulbs are now about 5 cm. high. Now’s the time to move the pots indoors into a semi dark area for a week. After this move them into full light (they’ll last longer in a cool spot) then sit back and enjoy watching the flowers grow.
Dead-head the spent blossoms and keep the pots watered. These bulbs can be planted outdoors in your garden where they will bloom again the following spring.
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HOW TO STORE SUMMER FLOWERING BULBS
This depends on how you grew them. Just remember, freshly lifted bulbs are tender. Handle them carefully until they’ve dried out a bit. A scratched or bruised bulb will rot over the winter.
For potted bulbs: Simply bring the entire pot indoors and store in a cool, dark place. Water occasionally to keep the bulbs from drying out.
For bulbs lifted from the garden: Remember it’s important to carefully mark the planting site so when fall arrives you’ll know where they are, what they are, and when they need to be lifted.
HOW TO STORE BULBS INDOORS
Bring the bulbs or tubers inside after the first light fall frost, remove the remaining foliage and dried soil. Store them dry in a box or carton completely buried in the chosen material. The ideal temperature range is 10o to 15o C. (52o - 62oF). Good materials for storage include dry peat moss, vermiculite, perlite, wood shavings, or sawdust.
Always replace your soil when you re-start your bulbs next spring.
They aren’t winter hardy. Bring indoors before fall frost and store in a cool protected area such as a cool cellar, enclosed porch or similar spot. Keep between 0 to 8 degrees Celcius. This is important for them to set the next seasons flower buds.
Lift in the fall, after the frost has blackened the foliage, cut back, and store indoors upside down in dry peat moss in a coolish spot. The moss may be sprinkled with water occasionally if they dry out.
Bring the pot and all indoors before fall frost and store in the pot in a cool, dark place. Water them occasionally to keep the bulb from drying out. Replace the soil the following spring to start the cycle over again.
After the first frost lift, discard the old corms (on the bottom of the new corm) and store the new corms dry at about 10o C (52 o F) with good ventilation.
How to grow your
Best grown as a houseplant for a bright windowsill. This species prefers to be pot-bound and planted quite shallowly with the base of the bulb just sitting on top of the soil surface. This aids in prevention of potential bulb rot. Unlike most Hippeastrum, this species should be grown on and not allowed to go dormant. During active growth, water weekly and fertilize monthly with a 15-30-15 or balanced fertilizer. Provide a bright, sunny area during the winter and filtered sun
for the summer. From about October to January, gradually decrease the watering to about every 3 to 4 weeks. Flowering should then follow.
For the best effect, allow the offsets to remain attached to the mother bulb and pot up the entire clump into a larger, but tight container
Hippeastrum papilio blooms in the spring and sometimes in the autumn. Although it is classified as an evergreen variety, growth will slow to a halt for a few weeks over mid-winter & again during mid to late summer. During mid-winter dormancy allow the plant to dry out completely between waterings. Stop watering altogether for 6-8 weeks during summer dormancy.
Papilio produces many offsets. When the pot becomes over-crowded, break off the offsets and pot up separately at the end of the winter dormancy.
(Polianthes tuberosa) These Mexican natives are related to Agave. They have spiky leaves at their base and tall, narrow flower stems. By nature they bloom in late summer, so it’s a good idea to give them a head start indoors. They are best grown in pots. Bring them indoors before fall frosts and keep them in a sunny window through the winter. Water occasionally, but keep them on the dry side.
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