Two Qtns re Tulilps in Containers

seacatOctober 18, 2008

OK, I'm a balcony gardener. I'm again planting containers of tulips, and other spring bulbs.

1. MOULD I've noticed one container of tulips (coleur cardinals) have a bit of green mould on their tips. They were potted up Sep 20th when nite time temps started to be in the 10C/50F range. Do I need to discard these bulbs? Can I brush off the mould, perhaps apply some sort of fungacide, leave then in the container and hope for the best in the spring? Should I separate this container completely from the rest of my other planted containers of bulbs?

2. SOIL - Some sources I've read say regular potting mix is ok for tulips but many recommend amendments to regular potting mix. For various reasons, I just planted bulbs in regular potting mix (Pro-Mix). I'm having second thoughts now, and concerned about rot, and my question is, am I risking much by digging up, adding sand and replanting the bulbs. I know many recommend perlite but it seems extremely expensive. In a post last fall, Posiegirl recommended adding a 'wick' - if you read this, what do you use as a wick? Butcher cord? a piece of absorbent fabric?

Tx!

Seacat

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stephen_e(PA Zone 6)

If they have been potted for a month at those temperatures, they have already started rooting and removing them is a bad idea. I think you've crossed the Rubicon with this planting.

You are close to the time when freezing will start, so if they have not been too wet to date, you should be OK. Pots tend to dry out quickly.

I'm not sure how well they will bloom in pots, but good luck. I have another post here:

http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/propa/msg1006234316515.html?1

that explains how I got a ton of extra bulbs (just lifted two days ago). If yours don't perform well, don't give up and maybe you will end up with a lot of stronger bulbs by next September.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2008 at 3:35PM
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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

For over-winter use I prefer a potting mix that has a very open texture, no water crystals, and a pre-added slow release fertiliser that is good for at least four months. The open texture comes from two sources - the composition of the base compost and the addition of something such as coarse pumice or sharp grit (bigger than sand - even 5mm). Check the bag label to see what's included already.

It sounds that your tulip bulbs could use a topping of at least two to four inches of mix, if you can easily see their tips and they're outdoors. (Unless you were peeking, of course. You know, brush away the covering soil just to check.)

For peace of mind you could quarantine that particular pot, however, if the bulbs are still firm to touch (not a rubbery soft feel to them) then they'll probably be fine. Tulip bulbs do get a greenish dusty mould to them. More worrisome, though, are corky brown patches or, later, streakiness on the leaves. And, if you see any aphids - squash first, ask later.

Probably the only reasons to disturb your planting are if the pot is too small (or becomes broken), or the drainage is poor. Pot feet can help a lot, and generous drain holes.

If you get enough rain over winter, or the bulbs are dormant because of snow cover, then any wicking wouldn't be needed until you arrive at leaves and flowers - and only then if you cannot water at need. (Maybe if you had to go away for a week during a dry spell.)

    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 4:45AM
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