Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Growing Flowering bulbs in warm climates - Narcissus Paperwhite

This is the 4th article in this series. There are many varieties of Narcissus available in lahore in fall. One of them is Grand Soleil which is a fragrant one having yellow flowers, a bit expensive though. The other one is paperwhite which gives pure white flowers and very cheap costing only Rs 10 per bulb. This is the one you are going after as it is very hardy, very tolerant of poor soil and does not care whether planted in sun, semi shade and even full shade. And if that is not all, it does not mind drought as well. So for a careless gardener, it is a perfect bulb to try. I have heard that they are easy be forced as well but i could not try it this year.

Here are the growing tips:
1-Buy fattest and biggest bulb possible. Try to get those having baby bulb-lets attached. Buy as early as possible. Plant them on regular intervals so that supply of flowers is continuous in spring.

2- Bury them till the neck. Their roots need depth and very vigorous, i find 10 inches pot not enough for their long roots.

3- Narcissus here love the semi shade so full sun and shade both will do the job
4- Water just once after planting and NOT after that until you see some top growth. Remember less watering is the key to flowering for paper whites. They are very tough and do not mind drought for a long period. More water will promote foliage but no flowers.
5- You can give light liquid fertilizer or little cow dung manure but if you don't, they won't mind.
6-Do not worry if the bulbs pushes itself upwards because of roots growth. Mine did that a lot. Again, do not tempt to water seeing them coming upwards.

And this was the progress after 1.5 months. They should be flowering right now and i will share the pics as soon as they appear. There are some barren areas in my soil bed and i put these bulbs over there as only they will survive there. You can see the baby bulbs also growing with parent ones. You can save bulbs for next season when flowers are over.

And this is how they look pure white and fragrant blooms.

Growing Flowering bulbs in warm climates - Hyacinth

This is the 3rd article in this series. Hyacinth bulbs are native to cooler and mountainous regions so they do not grow very well in warmer areas like Lahore and Karachi. But forcing is very successful here. Forcing means cheating the bulb making it think that it is in cooler climate and then give it little warmth to bloom. Forcing it normally done in water, so you do not grow the bulb in soil but only water.

Price of each bulb was Rs 60 this fall.The bulb which you will get from seeds shop or nursery will come pre-chilled means the buyer had chilled the bulb for few months before it reaches you. So the cheating part was already done when you buy the bulb. BUT that does not always happen and this is the real deal. You have to give it a chilling period of atleast 2-4 weeks by keeping it in fridge. At least that is what i do. Here goes the method.

1- Buy the fattest and biggest bulb with no mold and fungus what so ever. If you buy a bulb having some roots already sprouting that is better. Do not buy a bulb having lots of roots already sprouted.

2- Buy a jar like in the picture below. Any other jar can be used. The important think to note it that it holds the bulb at the base and water evaporation is absorbed 100% by base of bulb.

3- Fill the jar with water and place the bulb in the jar. Note that the water should be just and just means only just below the base of the bulb. DO NOT let the water touch base of bulb otherwise it will rot. It is fine if water is even 1 inch below the base. The bulb will sense the humidity below and throw the roots straight into the water automatically. Keep this jar in fridge for few weeks. This is the picture after 1 month i bought the bulb. First 3 weeks i had put it in fridge. Then kept in the room with inverted clay pot on it so that the bulb does not see the light. Keep it in dark. I tried 3 bulbs this fall and only 1 of them sent roots without needing fridge while for other 2 i had to put them in dark.

 4- This is the progress after 1.5 months. Still kept in dark. If water level goes down, fill the jar with water and bring back the water level. Do it without disturbing the bulb. You can also re-insert the bulb but you have be very careful not to damage the roots while re-inserting the bulb. Let the roots grow in cool and moist environment. Do not worry if you do not see any top growth.

 Progress after 2 months:

 5- As soon as you see the flower spike appear, put it out form the dark and keep it in your room at normal light. you can place in direct sunshine as well. But i prefer to keep it in room.

6- Blue and purple are more hardy than other colors. I found white and yellow to be more sensitive to light and watering requirements. The aroma will fill the room with some divine fragrance you will never forget.

Update: Here is the blue one, the first one to bloom:

Just followed by this pink one, less fragrant than blue one. Photo shot indoor:

Next Bulb : Narcissus PaperWhite

Monday, December 7, 2009

Chrysanthemum Flower Show - Part 1

I was writing the post of forcing hyacinth bulbs when Annual chrysanthemum show 2009 came up. Flower shows are just enchanting and if mums are there then it becomes impossible to ignore them. This year the event was held at Race course jelani park Lahore. Organized by Pakistan horticulture society, many participants showed with some beautiful mums i have ever seen. Many types including Irregular incurve, reflex, regular incurve, decorative, pompoms, anemone, single/semi double etc. were displayed. Show will continue till December 10, 2009. So here they go:

Flag of my country - Pakistan

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