Rodger Whitlock
Thu, 08 Apr 2004 16:22:42 PDT
On  4 Apr 04 at 15:43, Cindi Coffen wrote:

> i have some lovely hyacinthus orientalis in my garden that have
> bloomed beautifully for some years.  now i would like to relocate
> them as the flowers die back.  what i would like to know is whether
> it is safe to relocate them before the leaves have died back?  i
> find that it is easier to see where they are that way <g>.
> any thoughts on these and on the transplanting of narcissus and iris
> (tall bearded) early would be really appreciated.  i am in the
> process of overhauling my front garden and would like to showcase
> the bulbs and rhizomes :).

My understanding is that monocot roots, unlike those of dicots, will 
not branch if the root tips are damaged. As a result, it's tricky to 
transplant monocots when they're in active growth.

Your intuition is quite correct. By the time your hyacinth foliage 
begins to yellow, the roots are probably senescent and nearly 
non-functional, so that would be a very good time to dig and re-plant 
the bulbs. It's probably better to lift them slightly early than to 
risk lifting them late.

Narcissus should be handled in the same way. Bearded irises I can't 
say anything about because I don't grow them and am unfamiliar with 
their annual growth cycle.

One important point, often overlooked: established bulbs start to 
push out new roots surprisingly early in the season. I've unearthed 
crocus corms in early August and observed that roots were already 
beginning to emerge from the base. 

One trivial point: when you lift your bulbs, be careful not to mix 
them up. Don't depend on your memory to remember that one stack of 
hyacinth bulbs is 'Chestnut Flower' and another is 'Oranje Boven'. 
The phone will ring or something, and when you come back to them, 
your memory will not work properly. Either lift and replant one 
cultivar at a time, or bag and label each cultivar as you lift it.

The voice of experience, trust me!

Rodger Whitlock
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Maritime Zone 8, a cool Mediterranean climate

on beautiful Vancouver Island

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