Showing posts with label spring bulbs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spring bulbs. Show all posts

Friday, March 25, 2011

Growing sparaxis in warm climates

This is 8th article in the series of growing warm climate flowering bulbs. Sparaxis is a south african native flowering bulb endemic to south africa. It is also called Harlequin Flower. It goes dormant in summer and grows actively in winter and flowers in summer. There are many species suitable to lahore and other hot climates but sparaxis tricolor is the most common one.

1- Choose fat, large bulbs. Discard soft bulbs.Try to buy sparaxis bulbs not from same vendor but from different vendors, this way you would have better chances of different color combinations in flowers.
2- Try to buy those bulbs which are either very fat or those bulbs which have their offsets (child bulblets) attached. The offsets will flower next year. Plant bulbs in fall. Try some bulbs in november and some in december so you will know which one does better. In my experience, December is better than november.
3- Good drainage is essential for all flowering bulbs and sparaxis is no exception. For extra drainage, you can out a fine layer of sand beneath the bulb although this is not necessary for loamy soils.
4- Water the soil before planting the bulbs. When water is fully absorbed in soil, plant the bulbs. Planting depth is 1-2 inches below the soil.
5- After first watering, do not water the soil until the foliage starts appearing.
6- Few hours direct sunlight preferably morning sun is essential for flowering. But they will still flower in full shade. Avoid full sun when heat arrives in late march.

7- One or two stalks per bulb and there will be 1-3 flowers per stalk. Sadly the flowers do not last very long, just two days. But planted in masses they are most beautiful flowers.
8- Sparaxis is a perennial in lahore and other warm climates. Keep it in soil, it will grow again next fall. You can also leave it in container. Keep watering in summer.

Ixia and sparaxis are from same family. Will try ixia in fall and share my experience with you.

This post is included in Roses and Stuff by katarina. Do visit her for other blooming friday posts.
Also visit Tootsie time for fertilizer friday. This post is also included there.

Note: For those who are reading this, there is a free heirloom tomato seeds away week in first week of April on my blog. So do come back if you want to grow tomatoes in your yards. First come first basis after i announce it in first week of April. Happy planting.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Growing Flowering bulbs in warm climates - Oriental lily

This is the 5th article in the series. There are many varieties of lily available in lahore in fall. Few of them are as follows:

1- Easter Lily - lilium longiflorum- White fragrant flower. Very costly. A 14 inches pot costs more than 250 Rs. It dies in lahore summers. Blooms in Spring
2- Tiger lily - yet to see it in lahore
3- Amaryllis lily - will discuss in next article. The local one costs around 50 Rs while imported is around 300-500 Rupees depending upon bulb size. Normally the holland bulb is Rs 500 which is very large.
4- Asiatic lily - non scented trumpet flowers. Dies in lahore summers
5- Oriental lily - fragrant trumpet flowers. Dies in summer as soon as temp. hits 40c. Price of each bulb was 60Rs per bulb.
6- Regal lily - Lilium regale - Not available in lahore. The easiest to raise from seeds. Very fragrant flowers. Also called christmas lily

And Oriental lily is the one i am going to grow in this article. They came in three colors this year. White, pink and red. Here goes on growing instructions:

1- Choose biggest bulb. They come with roots and some of foliage already sprouting.

2- Bury the bulb in a well drained soil having compost. Bury whole bulb under soil and not more. It will grow right upwards.
3- Water it well and then do not water until you see progress above ground. Water as less as possible afterwards.
4- Give it semi shade in lahore although they enjoy full sun. Try to plant them in groups. They will look very pretty in groups.

This is the growth after 2 week of planting.

5- And this is the progress after around 1.5 months.

6- One bulb will produce around 3-7 flowers. Give it a little liquid fertilizer when buds appear.
7- You can not save them for next year in warm climates like lahore and karachi. So buy fresh ones next year.

Next bulb: Freesia

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

Friday, December 4, 2009

Growing Flowering bulbs in warm climates - Ranunculus

This is the second article in this series. Ranunculus asiaticus with common name Persian buttercup Bloomingdale series. Here they reach around 10 inches in height and around 15 inches wide. They come in various color including yellow, red, white, blue and some bi-colors. Flowers are long lasting even in vases.
Here in lahore, Pakistan the price of each corm Rs 20 this year. Plants grown from seed germinate late but come to flowering early and have larger flowers. Price of each seedling is Rs 25 in single plastic cell.

1- Buy biggest corm. Soaking will help but not mandatory. I did not soak and result was fine. This was the corm
Ranunculus asiaticus tuber corm

2- Plant it 2 inches deep in a well drained soil which could retain moisture. The corm moisture to sprout roots. Remember plant claws down or in other words plant as shown in the above picture.

This is the situation after one month. I planted 3 corms this pot and so far they are doing fine.

Ranunculus asiaticus leaves

We plant corms in November and it flowers in January/February and flowers go till March. Remember to save this plant from heavy rains as last year one of my big plant having lots of buds (grown from seed) was ruined by heavy showers in March.

3- After flowers have finished blooming, let the leaves gather the energy and store in corm. when leaves also start to fade, cut the foliage and dry them in shade. Save for next year. Although this was not successful when i tried it. I think it is better to keep it in ground and hope it will multiply itself. I was told that fresh corms better results.

Plants from seeds take around three years to form usable corms. They also end their first bud after third or fourth leaf stage. Remember to remove first bud of the plant so that plant could establish strong root system and forthcoming flowers will be larger. Give this plant semi shade. In our mild winters, we try to avoid it from mid day sun specially if planted in a pot.

They are suitable to our zone 10b just like narcissus paperwhite and anemone so do plant them and you will have fun when you will see really large and beautiful blooms.

Update after 2.5 months: Here are the flowers.
 Ranunculus asiaticus persian buttercup 

pink Ranunculus asiaticus

Next Bulb: Forcing Hyacinth bulbs in water

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Growing Flowering bulbs in warm climates - Anemone

I love flowering bulbs and fall is the best time to plant spring flowering bulbs in warm climates like lahore. I avoid planting bulbs like tulip, puschkinia, fritillaria, scilla, hyacinth etc as they do not grow well in our short and mild winters. We do however force hyacinth bulbs easily.

This is a series of more than 10 flowering bulbs suitable to warm climates having mild winters and tough summers. These are the ones which i bought this November from lahore and planted them in containers. You might notice most of them are south african or australian natives.

First one of the series is anemone coronaria. Price of each tuber is around 20Rs this year.I do not plant all tubers at same time but in regular intervals so that supply of flowers is continuous in spring. Remember that most of the plants in Ranunculus family do well here. Here it goes.

1- Selecting the bulb:
This is the tuber which is very tiny. Remember as in case of choosing a bulbs/tuber/corm, choose the biggest and fattest one. Large one will produce big flowers. This is a must in our climate and i buy at least half a dozen tubers of various colors. We buy these in Start of November.
anemone coronaria corm bulb

2- Bury in a pot full of sand (yes, sand only). Bury the tubers few inches deep in sand. Do not worry up side or downside planting, it will work both ways. Water it thoroughly and keep it in sand for about a week or so. do not let sand dry out and keep it moist.

This is the same tuber after 10 days, swollen and roots sprouted. you can also see the leaves shoots sprouting. Now you also know which side to plant down and which side up.
anemone coronaria swell after soaking

3-Now plant it in prepared soil having some leaf mold and compost. And plant them 2 inches deep in soil. Do not worry if the shoots of leaves are visible above soil surface. Water the soil and keep it in partially shaded area. It needs bright indirect sunshine and morning sun would be best for it. I mulch it with fine grade coco peat so that moisture is retained in the soil. I water once every 10 days and i still think i am impatient :)

4- This is the situation after another 15 days. you can see leaves, stems emerging.
anemone coronaria leaves

They should start flowering in next month i guess, waiting anxiously. Give them mild liquid fertilizer when buds form. I will update as soon as this happens. Remember you can save the tubers for next year as well, although i am not sure they will perform equally well as young and fresh corms are generally more vigorous. After the flowers fade in march/april, and green color of leaves start to fade, cut the foliage and dry the tubers in shade. Keep in cool and dry place.

And last but not least, anemones are also propagated by seeds and guess what the flowers are larger as compared to the ones from tubers. But they take lot of time to germinate and come to flowering.

Update: These are the flowers after 2.5 months
Blue anemone is probably the prettiest of all and early bloomer than other colors .anemone coronaria blue flower
blue anemone in lahore

What about this pink one? looking so lovely but way behind the blue one above.
pink anemone coronaria flower

red anemone coronaria
Next Bulb: Ranunculus - Persian buttercup Bloomingdale series

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