Pots vs. In Ground Culture

Linda Wallpe lwallpe@cinci.rr.com
Wed, 04 Oct 2006 18:36:03 PDT
After reading the postings from Jim McKenney and Mary Sue Ittner on pot
culture, I thought the List Members might appreciate the article reprinted
(with permission) below.

It was published in the current issue of The Daffodil Journal and was
written by Delia Bankhead, chairman of theADS Miniatures Committee for many

There is a photo illustrating her observations but I haven't received it
yet.  When it arrives, I'll attempt to post it to the wiki.

Linda Wallpe



                                            The Advantages of Open Ground
vs. Pots for Miniatures

Delia Bankhead, Hendersonville, NC

                I have been growing miniatures for about thirty years.
Mostly, I have grown in raised beds with 8" x 8" timber borders, and have
planted the little bulbs in plastic berry baskets to keep them confined, and
to assure that all are found at lifting time.  I just dig out a row, level
the bottom, place the baskets, and half fill them with soil and a layer of
sharp sand before placing the bulbs. I cover the row with soil from the next

            Some of the ones that must be dry all summer are planted in
heavy duty black perforated orchid pots and sunk in the miniature bed so
that they can be lifted without too much disturbance to the soil. (Berry
baskets "leak" too much soil through the summer to lift them intact.
However, the berry baskets, being so much more open, produce better bulbs
than those in the orchid pots)  I put the pots I lift in the shed until
September, when they go back into the beds.

            For several years, I tried growing about half the bulbs in pots
that were not sunk in soil, but in a protected frame with a gravel base. I
used the same type soil (a gritty compost) as is in the bed. But when I
dumped the pots, the bulbs were much smaller than those of the same cultivar
that had been in the open ground, and the roots were thin and few compared
to the ones from open ground.  This was made stunningly clear to me when I
received some bulbs of 'Crevette' that year, and the contrast in size was
remarkable.  The skins on my bulbs were a rich, shiny russet, and those from
Jim (Welles) a dull brown. I had no more doubts about the best way to grow
miniatures in a reasonably temperate climate. (Zone 6b-7a at 22oo degrees
elevation, with the average winter lows at 15 to 25 degrees F.)

            I have found that miniatures in Divisions 1,5, and 6 enjoy a
cooler location---they actually like cold weather, and don't do as well in
warm climates.  I put these in the coolest location I have.  So I suspect
that Southern growers might do well to plant these divisions on a
north-facing slope.  I probably should give my miniature tazettas some
protection from cold, but they must do as best they can in my open beds,
albeit at the southern end.  They manage to flower reasonably well, though
generally with fewer florets than others grown in warmer places.

----- Original Message ----- >
> Message: 4
> Date: Mon, 2 Oct 2006 16:16:45 -0400
> From: "Jim McKenney" <jimmckenney@jimmckenney.com>
> I was intrigued to read that you grow everything in pots - until I
> the sentence and you mentioned balconies. Although I've been growing
> geophytes for decades, I took pot culture seriously only very recently.
> results so far have so encouraging that I don't hesitate to recommend pot
> culture to other grower/collectors.

> No doubt about it: I know my pot plants much better than I ever knew those
> growing out in the garden.
>> ------------------------------ 

> Message: 8
> Date: Mon, 02 Oct 2006 15:13:40 -0700
> From: Mary Sue Ittner <msittner@mcn.org>
> Subject: Re: [pbs] Introduction
.................... Still there are
> some things that are so much happier in pots when you can more easily pay
> attention to what they need to do well. Adding them to the garden often
> means you are biding them farewell.

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