TOW N.H.Do in Mar.- Garden

Diane Whitehead
Sat, 28 Feb 2004 16:38:50 PST
I missed the Do in February  but if any of you did something 
essential to your bulbs last month, please append it to your comments 
for March, and I'll put them in the right place when the file goes to 
the WIKI.
In general, but also for Pacific Northwest North America and Western Europe -

Go out at night with a flashlight so you can see and remove the slugs 
that would otherwise eat reticulata irises.

Take note of any bulbs that have become shaded by the growth of 
nearby shrubs or trees and move them to a sunny spot.  If the sun 
never shines on crocus or snowdrops, they won't open to reveal the 
interesting markings inside, and bees won't pollinate them, so you 
most likely won't get seed.

Snowdrops and other bulbs that have formed big clumps can be dug up 
and spaced out or put in a new area.  It is not necessary to do this 
while they are "in the green" (ie. still have their leaves), but it 
makes it easier to see where they are, and it is too easy to forget 
to do it later.

Pollinate any rare bulbs.  Many clones are self-sterile, so use 
pollen from a different plant, but be sure it really is a different 
clone, and not just an offset from the one you are pollinating.  Use 
tweezers to remove a pollen-bearing anther, and dust it on the 
central pistil, except for iris, which has the stigmatic surface 
along the edge of a narrow "shelf" on the underside of the style arm, 
just above the stamens.  You can also use Q-tips or a section of pipe 
cleaner and then throw them away.  This is a lot cheaper than the 
advice to use artist's brushes.  You will not get seeds or fertile 
pollen from the commercial Iris danfordiae which is a sterile 

Fertilize bulbs.  Most bulbs are gross feeders while they are in 
growth, because they must store nutrients for a good portion of the 
year.  Fertilizers should be low, but not totally deficient, in 
nitrogen (the first number on a commercial fertilizer package). 
6-10-10 is OK.  Tomato food is good.

Exception: western Erythroniums must not be fertilized, but the 
European E. dens-canis can be.  However, Lester Rowntree, in Hardy 
Californians, described how strongly Erythroniums grew and flowered 
following one of the summer brushfires so common in California.  She 
counted up to 25 blossoms on one stem. (presumably this was something 
like E. tuolumnense).  On Vancouver Island, a good grower gives his 
Erythroniums extra potash.

many Brodiaea species,if they weren't planted in October.
Fall-blooming small bulbs: Leucojum autumnale and roseum, Scilla autumnalis
Lilies - most lilies are better planted in the fall, but garden 
centres do sell them in the spring, and many of the scented slightly 
tender ones like the green and black nepalense or the long white 
trumpets of Easter lily types like longiflorum and philippinense 
should be planted now and will flower in August.

Summer flowering bulbs can be planted from mid-month on.  It's a good 
idea to stagger the times of planting so you will have flowers over a 
longer season.  Callas, crocosmia, gladiolus, ranunculus, tigridia.

Northern California (and southern Europe?) -  In addition to the 
above, canna and dahlias can be planted.

Southern California, low desert through to Texas (and Mediterranean?) 
- In addition to the above, Caladium, Canna and Crinum can be planted 
when the soil has warmed to 18 C (65 F).

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