Returning to bulbs, after climatic changes

tired_of_digging(z10)October 8, 2010

My recent experience with bulb plantings in the last few years was anything but successful. I have not seen a single flower from most species, and possibly that triggered excessive bulb divisions instead of seed production, yielding too many small bulbs hard to grow and handle.

The last two years, a dog was brought to the house before the garden was fenced. I planted them in small pots hoarded on the balcony, and that was worse for them than any imaginable pest: Too many bulb rots and a family not understanding why I don't grow something that flowers like a real plant.

Recent years' climate was bad for them and I don't see it going any better: Minimum winter temperatures not going below 10c/50F and many bulbs -- especially tulips -- did not do much better with cooling before planting. A large collection was nearly completely devastated and I was left with Chinese narcissus.

I'm considering to focus on heat-tolerant species for the time being. Any idea? My favorite exotic bulbs are Massonias Neobakerias and Daubenyas which I consider growing in bonsai pots inside a cactus potting mix. Exotic gladiolii are very appealing and may also require a cactus potting mix as they were among the first in my collection to rot.

I have a recent concept of growing bulbs as companion plants with cacti: I live in a mediterranean climate, and it rains in winter. The potting soil, being fast-draining, protects the cacti from rotting in the winter, and this has been tested for two consecutive years. The bulbs will be planted along the edges of the pot to avoid being overwatered in summer when dormant.

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calistoga_al

Properly managed bulbs are the most dependable bloomers you can grow. Planting in your yard will require the least diligence on your part. Daffodils should do wonderful for you and multiply over the years never failing to bloom as long as they get full sun. Gladiolus likewise. Tulips grown as an annual and chilled for at least six weeks will be dependable bloomers. Nothing expensive or exotic here. They all can be grown in containers, but will require careful choice of potting mix and frequent hand watering and fertilizing. Al

    Bookmark   October 9, 2010 at 9:28AM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

If you are in California, I would not recommend tulips. I have never had a daffodil return in my garden either. I believe the summer watering may rot them. Who knows.

You will have best success with your plan if you choose South African bulbs to plant with your cactus. I would choose Amaryllis, Hippeastrum, gladiolus, and any other bulb that requires summer dry and winter wet.

If you want to really get into exotics in pots you should build a greenhouse and replicate the native conditions of that particular bulb. Here is a link that has good information.

Renee

Here is a link that might be useful: TelosRareBulbs

    Bookmark   October 9, 2010 at 8:36PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Israel has a wonderful native flora of bulbs/corms/tubers. Have you considered species tulips, crocus, cyclamen, colchicum, narcissi, iris and anemones etc of types similar to the native flora (but NOT taken from the wild) and planting them in the ground rather than in pots? I think you could have a glorious spring show using plants adapted to your climate. If the dog is still a problem you can put pieces of wire netting over the bulbs and just below the soil surface to stop them getting dug up.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 5:58AM
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xanadu(8/9 N.CA)

Lachenalia?

    Bookmark   October 16, 2010 at 1:18AM
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