tiny bulbs, companions

Kenneth Hixson khixson@nu-world.com
Thu, 19 Feb 2004 00:55:39 PST
Hi, All
	Jane wrote:
>such as dwarf conifers, Daphne petraea and other small species, tiny 
>Rhododendron species, saxifrages, and so on. The bulbs would be a seasonal 
>accent, which is why I specified that their foliage not overwhelm the 
>plants around them.
	As Mary Sue noted, this means bulbs that tolerate some summer
water, though under a conifer can be fairly dry.
	I've grown very few of the really small Daphnies, and would be 
reluctant to have anything overgrow them at any time.  My limited experience
is that Daphnies do not tolerate being overgrown.
	Rhododendrons may be a little more variable.  The radicans/keleticum/
prostratum group gives lovely little plants.  However, even a "large" growing
plant like keleticum Rock 58 will loose branches if overgrown for a fairly
short period of time, and once a branch is dead, does not seem to fill back
in the way some plants do.  R. camtschaticum is relatively "large", but seems
to tolerate at least some leaning by neighbors.  Being deciduous probably
has something to do with its' ability to sprout out from bare branches.
	I have a seedling from Purple Gem, a lepidote or scaly leaved 
rhododendron, a mound about 15" high/diameter, and fairly dense.  Bloomeria
crocea had been planted nearby, and seeded into the rhododendron.  One
year I realized that the rhododendron was being almost completely shaded/
covered over by the leaves of the Bloomeria, which can be more than 1/2"
wide and two feet long.  Worried that the rhododendron would be killed,
I waited until the Bloomeria had died down, in July, and dug the rhodie.
The rootball came up as a pancake about 3 inches thick.  A few small bulbs
of the Bloomeria were in the rootball, but most were in a layer right under
where the rhododendron roots ended.  I picked up as many bulbs as possible, 
and even dug down deeper to see if there were more-there weren't many.  
However, what worried me the most, was the fact that there were matchhead
size bulblets--obviously, the Bloomeria was managing to seed into the dome
of the rhododendron, germinate and grow well.
	The rhododendron should have some moisture all summer long, and the
whole bed is mulched with bark mulch.  The Bloomeria should like to be 
dry most of the summer.  Yet the two have co-existed for about fifteen years
	I think this works is because this rhododendron is tolerant of being
shaded for a while, while the Bloomeria makes fairly dense foliage for a
while, but not until after the rhododendron has formed and firmed up its'
new growth.  The Bloomeria foliage is dense for a month, but by late June
is gone and only the ripening seedheads/stems remain.
	Another odd thing about this combination:  When the Bloomeria was
originally planted, it was in full sun.  An oak planted to the south has
grown to the extent that now the only direct sunlight is probably briefly in
the afternoon.  It's not dense shade, but it is full shade, or nearly so.
In the noonday shade, the yellow of the Bloomeria glows, but doesn't glare.
It's nicer in the shade than in full sun.
Ken Z7 western Oregon

More information about the pbs mailing list