pbs Digest, Vol 36, Issue 16: Fertilizers and geophytes

Adam Fikso irisman@ameritech.net
Sun, 15 Jan 2006 10:11:14 PST
Don't believe the words on the packages about what is FOR what, as in "this 
is FOR getting scum off of tile"; this (detergent) is FOR washing dishes, 
this hair shampoo is FOR your very, oh-so special hair that no other shampoo 
with conditioners will treat so well, etc., along with "coral calcium" all 
natural, not that awful synthetic chemical stuff.  About 98.99%  nonsense, 
and marketing hype.

It's my experience that most plants will take what they need and do much 
better treated with less rather than more fertilizer.  There are exceptions 
which are often keyed to time of year and availability of water 
corresponding to the plant's ability to take it up based on IT'S needs not 
yours. Many of the difficulties that gardeners have today is in overfeeding, 
overwatering, and prepaering a nice "bed' for the plant to sleep in where it 
promptly does just that.. goes to sleep forever.  What's needed is to do 
one's homework and try to learn about the growing conditions of the original 
provenance of the plant-- assuming that one is not dealing with  a Dutch 
garden hybrid that has been bred to live and grow under extremely artificial 

On another plant group's list right now, it has become apparent that 
Arisaema candidissimum dies readily in most people's gardens because it's 
overfed, overwatered, and over sheltered from the sun. If it was a kid, we'd 
say it was "spoiled", ie., overindulged...so it doesn't "learn" to grow 
roots, and furthermore, can't learn, because it's denied the opportunity. 
It's parents are in too much of a hurry to see the flowers, to have the kid 
get into a "good" school.  Intellectual garbage in both places.

Arisaema candidissimum does best in relatively poor sandy or clayey soil 
with a fair amount of bound up calcium in the form of rocks or plaster, with 
anywhere from 4-6 hours of direct or dappled sunlight each day.  Watered 
from time to time at a level that is so scant that it doesn't quite kill an 
astilbe, where the ground can get hard as a rock. It seems to do better with 
coarse sand mixed into the clayey loam, and with other plants around it to 
perhaps take up extra moisture, or if it's on a slope.

The main mistake I think, made about assessing growth requirements for 
arisaemas in the past has been that if the collector  sees plants growing in 
a woodland, the assumption is made that they are shade-loving, so, this is 
reported andas a consquence then, they are shaded in our gardens and watered 
too much.  But think! How long has the plant been there?.  Was it as shaded 
when it germinated?  Were the trees around it as tall, and as close 
together?   If the plant is 25-30 years old and a really nice big one....it 
was probably NOT  as shaded when it first grew there.  If you want a nice 
big one--maybe you should give it some sun--and leave it alone. Don't fuss 
with it, disturbing its roots all the time.   Water it in--make sure it gets 
established, but then just watch it and minister to it, don't choke it.

One point of view:  Adam in Glenview, IL erstwhile Zone 5a

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <pbs-request@lists.ibiblio.org>
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Sent: Sunday, January 15, 2006 11:00 AM
Subject: pbs Digest, Vol 36, Issue 16

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> Today's Topics:
>   1. Best bulb fertilizer (Darren Sage)
>   2. Re: Best bulb fertilizer (Mary Sue Ittner)
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Message: 1
> Date: Sun, 15 Jan 2006 15:02:37 +0000
> From: "Darren Sage" <darrensage100@hotmail.com>
> Subject: [pbs] Best bulb fertilizer
> To: pbs@lists.ibiblio.org
> Message-ID: <BAY101-F27FC1A5D236F1DD7580C36E0180@phx.gbl>
> Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed
> I have just picked up on this old mail.
> Ideally, what fertiliser ratio of NPK do people prefer?  I have a lot of
> hippeastrum hybrids, Lilium longifolium and hybrid Gladiolus.
> Many thanks
> Darren
>>From: Mary Sue Ittner <msittner@mcn.org>
>>Reply-To: Pacific Bulb Society <pbs@lists.ibiblio.org>
>>To: Pacific Bulb Society <pbs@lists.ibiblio.org>
>>Subject: [pbs] Tomato Fertilizer
>>Date: Mon, 07 Nov 2005 11:52:41 -0800
>>Dear All,
>>A number of years ago Diana Chapman recommended tomato fertilizer as an
>>excellent source of fertilizer for bulbs. I believe she mentioned a ratio
>>of 5-10-10. Others have continued to repeat this advice. I began to look
>>for tomato fertilizer and never found any in the ratio she recommended. I
>>found huge variations in the ingredients of what was referred to as tomato
>>fertilizer. They were not all low in nitrogen. If Diana and I both live in
>>California and there is this huge difference just in our state, think how
>>that could be magnified around the world.  I'm not sure what would be the
>>best common denominator when explaining what to look for. Is the ratio of
>>Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium everywhere?
>>Mary Sue
>>pbs mailing list
> ------------------------------
> Message: 2
> Date: Sun, 15 Jan 2006 07:54:53 -0800
> From: Mary Sue Ittner <msittner@mcn.org>
> Subject: Re: [pbs] Best bulb fertilizer
> To: Pacific Bulb Society <pbs@lists.ibiblio.org>
> Message-ID: <>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"; format=flowed
> Dear Darren,
> I'm not trying to discourage people from answering your question, but do
> think that when a post from the past is quoted it is helped to check the
> archives for the discussion that followed it:
> http://pacificbulbsociety.org/pbslist/old.php/…
> Tomato fertilizer is the subject to look for.
> I found this to be a fascinating thread, especially the confirmation that
> tomato fertilizers vary widely and that we cannot share cross country the
> ratios since NPK ratios are not internationally compatible.
> Specifically the post from Lee Poulsen that included Jim Lykos' post is
> instructive. (O.K. I concede that in this situation including the whole
> post saved time, but I still would rather people not do it for the sake of
> digest subscribers.)
> http://pacificbulbsociety.org/pbslist/old.php/…
> Discussions about fertilizers are always interesting because there seems 
> to
> be such a wide range of differences in what people do and what works and
> doesn't work so advice on what formula to use is difficult. So much 
> depends
> on the plant, the climate, and the medium that plant is growing in.
> Mary Sue
> ------------------------------
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