My mother in law's looney belief

LullabyF360September 29, 2013

There have been several times her & I have gone plant shopping together. Whenever a place has their bulbs out, of course we are going to go rooting (would say pun intended, but deliberate puns are usually frowned upon) through their selection. She is convinced if a bulb-take an iris bulb for example-does not have any green whatsoever on it, then it is a bad, dead-&-gone bulb. She doesn't look at the roots. Just the top where the pretty stuff grows out of. There have been times where she has ordered bulbs from the internet & throw them away if there "is no green". It true you take chances buying bulbs (or anything for that matter) from any place. I have bought bulbs that have been completely dry & shriveled, broken off roots, pieces flaked off when you touched it...yet it still popped up out of the ground when spring came. I've even had a bulb still grow when the dog took a chunk out it. I can't convince her otherwise from her little "myth".

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socalgal_gw Zone USDA 10b Sunset 24

Maybe you could convince her to give you the "dead" bulbs instead of throwing them away?

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 6:55PM
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gardengal48

If you can't convince her that a bulb without green growth showing is viable then you will probably not be able to convince her that for most bulbs, any green showing is considered a detriment. Healthy bulbs - at least the vast majority of spring flowering ones - should be dry, firm and with absolutely NO sign of green growth. Green growth is just an indication that the bulbs have not been stored properly.

An exception to this would be something like paperwhites, which really require minimal storage and will grow regardless of conditions. Ditto colchicums, which are often sold in bloom from bare bulbs.......foliage appears in late spring or early summer, then vanishes.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2013 at 4:29PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

I take it your mother in law isn't a 'start from seed' person. It's even harder to believe a seed could ever come to life imo.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 8:55AM
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LullabyF360

No. She is not a seed grower. Her daughter is though.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 10:05AM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

She might be right about the irises, though. I see them offered in the fall and usually steer clear, thinking that is not the optimal time for them. Fall irises are often very dried up looking. If I'm worng, someone please tell me! I'd live to buy them if it woudl work out.

For bulbs that go completely dormant (tulips, etc. ) I agree with you and the others. Green shoots are not good!

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 1:54PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I have not been in the market for Iris in awhile, but when I was, I remember there was a specific time period when growers who deal primarily in Iris would offer them. It's after they bloom and have had a chance to divide them, right? So I trust that someone who grows Iris for a living knows the best time to divide and replant.

Interestingly though, I did something a little different with my Iris. I was at a nursery some time in July and noticed an employee cutting all the foliage on the Iris that had gone by. I thought, why wasn't I doing that to mine at home? Most years, I've left the foliage alone and watched it deteriorate over the summer until it looked horrible by fall. So I did, cut it all back. I cut any foliar issues off even pretty low on the leaf and any that were clean I just cut the top 1/3 off them. They have done great this year. I had new leaves sprout at the base of all the Iris and the cut foliage looked better and stayed cleaner. I think it helps keep the plant healthier and I'd be surprised if they don't start off better next spring too.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 5:20PM
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LullabyF360

I have been advised by many to cut back the foliage of an iris. It does make sense. As pointed out above, it will keep the beds clean of insects & disease. I'm needing to go through my beds again, but I am away from home for awhile ::

This post was edited by LullabyF360 on Mon, Oct 21, 13 at 18:10

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 6:07PM
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gardengal48

Lets get our terminology right :-) There are bulbous iris, tuberous or rhizomatous iris and just fleshy rooted iris. Bulbous iris, like Iris reticulata, danfordae, Dutch or Spanish iris are like any other fall planted true bulbs -- these should show no signs of green growth when planted in fall and be firm and dry.

Tuberous/rhizomatous iris are the various common bearded iris. These are not considered "true" bulbs, can be planted over a very long season and usually always have some sort of 'green' showing.....in fact, lack of green is generally an indication of a less than healthy plant. In mild climates they are evergreen. They are sold both in spring or fall and can be planted at either time.

And fleshy rooted iris include Siberians and various species iris......these have root systems similar to ornamental grasses or day lilies - dense, fibrous and fleshy. These are almost always sold with foliage attached, typically as started plants but sometimes bare root.

The point is, there are several different kinds of irises, some which are not bulbs at all, so it is misleading to make generalities about whether or not any 'green' should be showing :-))

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 5:06PM
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LullabyF360

It's not just with iris bulbs. It is with ALL bulbs that she applies this belief too. Peonies, daffodils, daylilies, tulips, hyacinths, gladiolus. The list is extensive.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 5:57PM
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Need2SeeGreen(10 (SoCal))

Socalgal makes a good point.

I wonder too though, could one describe the true bulbs as also having a growing/alive part, it's just that you can't see it during the dormant stage, because it's too small? Would that work with her?

I go mostly by weight with the dry ones, though that's not exactly scientific of me.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 4:08PM
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LullabyF360

Ha, some time I had to make a trip into town & made a pit stop by my local nursery. Their bulbs were on sale for .50â a peice. Begonias, dahlias, oriental lilies, asiatic lilies, calla lilies, gladioli, cannas--I bought a lot. How could I NOT pass that up!?! Yesterday, my mother in law came over to help me with the house (that is a whole other headache). She saw my stash & commented about the quanity while she absently browsed through them. Which I didn't care. They are just plant bulbs, & besides, the box was left out in the open. Some of the packages you could see the bulbs very clearly. These she made her remarks that "there is no green". Others were packaged in a way that the bulbs were obscured by sawdust or the plastic was opaque. Shs complained they should not be sold like this, again, because you can't tell if there is any green. My voodoo lily bulbs I had ordered were in the box as well. She has never heard of or seen a voodoo lily. As she looked at the corm & the picture on the front, guess what she said.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 4:36PM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

What? What? Don't leave us hanging! What did she SAY???

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 8:19PM
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