Horticulture Report: February 2013

BULBS TO PLANT IN THE SPRING

Iris: There are over 200 iris species.  Some grow from rhizomes, most common, others from bulbs.   Irises do best with plenty of sunlight and planted in soil that is fertile and well drained.   Don’t be too generous with fertilizer as it will produce lots of plants and few flowers. Plant iris rhizomes horizontally one foot apart and plant them shallow, just barely cover with soil. When blooms are finished cut faded flowers off to prevent seeds pods from forming, as these pods can weaken the plant.  Deer won’t eat iris, so, many gardeners claim irises have no pest except dogs, cats and children, who can jump on them breaking their stems.   Irises do not need mulching and they do not like overhead watering.

Crocus:  Autumn Crocus (Colchicum autumnale) resembles spring crocuses with white, lavender and rose colored flowers, but they bloom in the fall.  You can plant Autumn Crocuses in early spring. They like light, loamy soil with good drainage. Plant them 3-4 inches deep in a sunny location.  After blooming, let them die back naturally, do not “mow” them down.   The corms should be divided every 3-4 years to stop overcrowding or they will stop flowering. Autumn Crocuses are hardy in zones 5 & 6.

Saffron Crocus (Crocus Sativus) blooms with lavender or white flowers. Sativus’ stigmas (stamens) are the source of saffron, but in case you were thinking of raising them for saffron, it takes thousands of stigmas to produce one ounce of saffron.

Colchicum (Meadow Saffron) and Autumn Crocuses (Colchicum autumnale) are often confused with each other because they are both considered an autumn crocus, and their blooms are very similar. However colchicum is its own genus with at least 15 species, hybrids, and varieties. Colchicums are taller too, growing up to 8” in height and they are more expensive to buy. Be aware that colchicum corms contain a deadly toxic, so wear gloves when working with them.

Autumn Crocus belongs to the Lily family (Liliaceae) along with Lilies, Tulips, and Hyacinths while spring flowering crocuses are a member of the Iris family (Iridaceae) along with Irises and Gladiolus.

Allium:  The Allium, which is Latin for garlic, includes chives leeks, shallots, onions and of course, garlic.  Some members of Allium family are ornamental perennials which produce globe-like flowers. These flowers can be used in arrangements either freshly cut or dried. Plant ornamental Allium bulbs to a depth that’s 2 -3 times the diameter of the bulb, space them 6-12 inches apart. Plant bulbs in full sun and in ordinary soil. It flowers in many different colors and sizes. They don’t ‘have pests.

Gladiolus:  Gladioluses are members of the Iris family, and most of the 200 species are natives to Africa.   Their name comes from “gladius”, which is the Latin name for sword because of their sword-like foliage. Their flowers are borne on spikes 1-5 feet tall.

Plant bulbs in a sunny location 3-8 inches deep, and they look best planted in groups of 6-12 plants of the same color, rather than as an individual plant, or in groups of mixed colors.

Lilium: Lilies are among the most beautiful of the summer blooming flowers.   Historically, lilies were not easy to grow in North America because, unlike other bulbs, lilies never grow dormant. This made it difficult to ship in good condition and often they were infected with viruses. Then Jan de Graaff, who was born in Holland in 1903, became fascinated with Lilies.  In 1928, he started working for the Oregon Bulb Farms, and then in 1924 he bought the company.  After making thousands of lily crosses his flower called Enchantment was instantly success so he began marking lilies successfully.

Lily bulbs deteriorate rapidly, so plant right away. Lilies like very well drained acid soil enriched with enough humus to hold the moisture they need.  Plant bulbs 5-8 inches in a location with full sun until noon then shade in the afternoon. Lilies do well in large deep planters or pots with good drainage.   To discourage diseases water so no moisture stays on the foliage.   Fertilize with fish emulsion or seaweed.    However, the Madonna Lily and the Turks Cap only need their tops 1‘’ below the soil.  . Lilies have a reputation for a short life, therefore the need placing every 3 years.

Dahlias: Few plants offer such a variety of shapes sizes and color and long season of bloom as the Dahlia. It is a member of the daisy family and is a native to Mexico. After the Swedish born botanist Anders Dahl developed several hybrids, the plant was named after him.

Dahlias like rich, deeply tilled, loamy  soil and full sun, but protected from winds .  Do not plant near trees and other plants that will compete with them.   Dahlias over 4 feet tall must be staked because their stems are hollow and brittle.  Insert the stake into the ground before planting so you won’t damage the tuber,  Dahlias like plenty of nourishment and water, so be sure to give it  plenty of compost and manure.

Dahlias that grow over 4 feet tall should be planted 1 foot deep then covered with only 3-4 inches of soil.   After the stem break the surface, add more soil, repeat this until the top of the hole is reach. As it grows pinch off terminal buds to stimulate side branching and encourage a more bushy plant. There are also shorter varieties available now which grow only 2 ½ ft. high. These shorter versions can be grown in a large container.

The ground should be warm before planting Dahlias. To plant, lay tubers horizontally 4-6 inches deep and 18 inches apart, and do not water them after planting.  Give them a low nitrogen fertilizer, but don’t over feed them, and hand weed only.

Dahlias tubers are “thin skinned”, so they are not has cold hardy as a bulb, therefore it’s recommended they be dug up and store for the winter.  However, if you decided to leave them in the ground, cut their stems below the ground level in June. Then in mid-November cover your Dahlia area with plastic to keep the winter rains off of the tubers and add a few inches of leaves, mulch, soil or straw over the plastic to give them extra warmth.   Remove this protected cover in March.

by Mary Anne Wallace

Winter Flowers

Narcissus papyraceus, one of a few species known as “Paperwhites,” is a perennial bulbous plant native to the Mediterranean region (USDA zones 9-10). Paperwhites produce white flowers in bunches which are strongly fragrant and they are easy to force to bloom indoors for winter flowers.

Paperwhites only need three inches of room for their roots to grow, so shallow containers like glass vases and ceramic bowls are ideal containers.  It’s fun to scout around antique stores, second hand stores and garage sales for unusual planting containers to display these fragrant flowers indoors.  They make wonderful gifts, too.

The planting medium only needs to provide support for the plants and be suitable for the roots to grow through.  And because Paperwhites are usually discarded after flowering  the planting medium doesn’t need to supply any nutrients, so Paperwhites can be planted in soil, pebbles, tumbled beach glass, glass marbles or small gravel.

Plant Paperwhites bulbs with the top inch above the soil/pebble “soil” line. For a full display plant bulbs close together, almost touching. If planted in soil add just enough water to moisten the soil. If planted in pebbles, rocks or marbles, add enough water to just cover the bulbs bases. The goal here is to have the very bottom of the bulbs touching the water to encourage root growth, but not covering the entire bulb which can cause it to rot. Place the container in a sunny bright location and in a week or two roots will appear, after which the buds and blooms develop quickly. It is fun to watch the daily progress.

Paperwhites

Paperwhites

My friend gave me this large basket she was taking to Goodwill, so I lined it with a plastic trash bag, filled it with potting soil and planted 20 Paperwhites in it the first week of December.

Carlotta Lucas

Bulbs for all-year color

Plant bulbs this spring and summer for all-year color
By Judy Scott,
Oregon State University Extension Service

CORVALLIS, Ore. – After the spring show of crocus, daffodils, hyacinth and tulips, flower gardeners may be at a loss on how to top the early vibrant color.

If you plant summer-flowering bulbs, corms and tubers in the spring, you’ll carry color through the summer, said Ross Penhallegon, horticulturalist with the Oregon State University Extension Service.

montbretia
A wide variety of ililies, dahlias, gladiolus and tuberous begonias are available from catalogs and garden shops. If you love bolder flower gardens, plant more out-of-the-ordinary bulbs, including summer hyacinths, Peruvian-daffodils, fragrant tuberoses, shell flowers and montbretia for striking summer garden accents.

sternbergia candida

For stunning color all the way through the growing season, plant fall-blooming bulbs in late summer and early autumn. Later-flowering species that bloom in the fall include colchicums, autumn flowering crocus, magic lilies of Japan, sternbergia and fairy lilies, to name a few. These are available in summer to early fall at nurseries and from bulb catalogs.

When it’s time to plant, Penhallegon recommends planting each bulb as deep as the diameter of the bulb; if the diameter is one inch, plant the bulb one inch deep. “The soil needs to be well-drained and mulchy, with lots of organic materials,” he said. “Apply a small amount of general purpose fertilizer, organic or conventional, after the bulb emerges from the soil.”
Don’t forget to check with your local nurseries. Each year they offer a new array of plant varieties.

This article is also online at: http://bit.ly/OSU_Gardening1564
Judy Scott, Public Service Comm Specialist , Oregon State University Extension Service
Source: Ross Penhallegon, Ag, Horticulture ,
Oregon State University Extension Service

Gopher Proof Bulbs

Having Gopher problems?

At the Siskiyou District meeting on October 19th, 2011 David Sheehan will give us the straight scoop on Eradicating Gophers and Moles, but until then, I found online a list of bulbs which are said to contain a substance Gophers don’t like and won’t eat. They may shoulder them aside, but they won’t eat them.

Allium, Anemone, Daffodil, Freesia, Hyacinth, Ranunculus, Scilla, Dwarf Iris, Iris Reticulata, Fritilaria, Galanthus, Leycojum, Ornithonalum, Puschkinia, Lycoris, Muscari, Narcissus, Chinodosa, Arunthus.

Other bulbs can be planted in wire gophe-proof baskets.

Happy Planting,
Carlotta