Botanix – A journal about plants and gardening

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Planting flower bulbs and seedlings

Take out the flower bulbs and seedlings that you have received by postal service out of the packaging, and let it stand in the shade for around 2–3 days. A second possibility is to plant them immediately and keep them in the shade for a few days so that they are not exposed to any direct sunlight.

To plant seedlings

Make a little groove to plant the seedlings in. Take the seedlings out of the pot (thus from the plastic bag in case of separately packed seedlings), turn the roots downwards and spread them evenly before putting the whole plant in the groove.

Pour some water in the groove and after the soil has absorbed all the water, pour some more water. Treat all the other plants in exactly the same manner. After you are done with all the plants, water them again.

The first couple of days after planting, you can only water them according to need and take good care that they are protected against strong sunlight. The plants will develop roots within 1–3 weeks and thereafter you can take care of them in precisely the same manner that you treat all the other plants in your garden

Planting flower bulbs and seedlings

First dig the soil loose where you want to plant the bulbs and tubers (we are going to use the word bulbs in the rest of the text). Take the bulbs out of the paper bags just before you want to plant them. Dig an adequately deep pothole (see table) and put the bulb in the hole with the top facing upwards. Some bulbs will not survive if you plant them with the top facing downwards – take good care to plant them correctly!

If you plant tulips in the middle of summer (maybe you cannot store them anywhere or you are going on holiday) you need not give them any water. The bulbs will rest and will only start growing after the first autumn rain has fallen.

Smaller bulbs that is more difficult to grow, have to be planted less deep. To determine how deep you need to plant, it is necessary to determine the distance between the top of the bulb and the ground surface!

We take the bulbs out of the soil when the top part (above the surface) has withered (this is a rule for all flower bulbs except the Gladiolus) – this can easily be the case as early as May in Europe (in hot and dry weather circumstances). The most types can, after they were taken out of the ground, be stored (as long as they are kept dry) until autumn (mainly onion, garlic, saffron and tulips).

Remaining types like for example the lily, grape hyacinth (Muscari), Ornithogalum, and solomon's seal (Polygonatum) could however NOT be stored in this manner, as they will not survive. The types that can not be stored (in a dry place) could rather be planted from one place in your garden to another place (they will survive for around one week, but it is not advised to keep them outside any longer than this).

Species planting period plant depth in cm
Small types with a bulb measurement of 2cm like the Allium carinatum, flavum, molly, oleraceum, scorodoprasum 7.-10. 5–8
Big types with a bulb measurement of 10cm like the Allium giganteum, karataviense, nigrum 7.-10. 10–15
Colchicum – species that bloom in autumn 8. 15
Crocus – species that bloom in spring (Crocus chrysanthus, Crocus vernus) 10. 9
Crocus – species that bloom in autumn (Crocus sativius) (7.-)8. 9
Gladiolus (garden hybrids) 4.-5. 10 (smaller than 5)
Gladiolus (wild species of South Africa origin) 9. 5–8
Lilium candidum – white lily or Madonna lily 8. 3
Lilium – garden hybrids 9.(-10.) 5–15 depending on the type
Muscari – grape hyacinth 7.-10. 8–10
Narcissus – narcis 8. 10
Ornithogalum umbellatum – Star-of-Bethlehem, Grass Lily 7.-10. 10
Polygonatum – salomons seal 8.10., 2.-3. 10
Tulips with small bulbs like theTulipa chrysantha, tarda, saxatillis, turkestanica, urumiensis 10. 10
Tulip with big bulbs – Tulipa greigii, Tulipa fosteriana, Tulipa kaufmanniana and garden hybrids 10. 12–14

Lily propagation by scales


Propagation of the lily by scales

The simplest manner in which to multiply the lilie by means of using the scales (layers of the bulb)

Plant the scales in furrows of 1–2 cm deep (= the depth of the soil covering the scales) and keep them in the day temperature approximately 25–30 ºC is and the night temperature around 22 ºC (the night temperature can be lower, the most important is the day temperature) in for example a cupboard, greenhouse or window sill inside your house. Keep the soil dry. This way new bulbs will be rapidly develop on the bottom of the scales. In 1–3 months, 2–3 bulbs of around 1cm would have formed on one of these scales! If you have peeled the scales and planted them on the end of July, you can take these new bulbs out of the ground in September and plant them 2 cm deep in the garden. Plant each new bulb separately, and leave approximately 4 cm between each bulb – after 4–6 years you will have the excellent flower bulbs in full bloom!

Sowing the seeds of flower bulbs

Some flower bulbs can be propagated very fast and effectively by means of seed. In Europe the best time to sow the seeds around 0,5–1 cm in deep is during March to April. Do not plant them out in the first year, but leave them where they are in the original places. Some types will already bloom the next season. Most of the types will however only start blooming 2–5 years after sowing. The smaller types will bloom earlier than the bigger types with bigger bulbs.

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Wednesday 10th November 2010 22:23 | print | How to grow

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