A question about plants and bulbs through airport security

totototo@telus.net totototo@telus.net
Thu, 01 Mar 2007 03:54:03 PST
On 27 Feb 07, at 13:40, Laura & Dave wrote:

> ...several of the bags full have not done well (Galanthus elwesii
> and Leucojum vernum in particular), waning over the three year span
> since arriving. 

I won't even hazard a guess about the x-rays, but the two plants you 
mention as not doing well have contrasting fates here in Victoria.

Galanthus do very well here. The only common form that is a bit iffy 
is the little everyday double form of G. nivalis, which seems not to 
be as robust as the others. I suspect it simply doesn't handle root 
competition and shade all that well, and needs to be planted in an 
open situation away from significant trees and shrubs. I've seen it 
growing happily by drainage ditches in exposed situations that go 
bone dry in summer.

Leucojum vernum, otoh (on the other hand), is a puzzle. I've planted 
many bulbs of this over the years, perhaps hundreds. Only two or 
three have survived and prospered; the rest disappeared years ago. 
Over the years, one of the survivors has formed a a seriously 
congested clump, which I lifted and divided just yesterday like 
snowdrops in the green. I am keeping my fingers crossed that L. 
vernum can handle disturbance during the growing season.

Now the interesting thing is that of the twenty or so bulbs in that 
clump, one -- only one -- had grubs of the lesser bulb fly in it. 
There were no signs whatsoever of the larger bulb fly, though it is 
probably more common species of bulb fly here. I strongly suspect 
that the clumping of that one bulb is due to damage to the basal 
plate by the bulb fly; the clump had "that look" about it.

I also speculate (but with much less confidence) that L. vernum is 
normally subject to the depredations of the bulb fly, but I have a 
clone here that is not particularly attractive to them. Don't quote 
me; this is pure speculation!

The usual complaint about L. vernum is that the bulbs in the trade 
are so badly desiccated that they rot instead of growing. This is a 
criticism of considerable accuracy, but overlooks that there is a 
remedy. If the bulbs are first soaked in water until they firm up, 
then potted up in pure sand and kept there for a season or two, the 
majority survive. I've always done this and gotten the bulbs into a 
state of active growth before planting them out. They still have 
disappeared in large numbers. Frustrating.

Comments, anyone?

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

on beautiful Vancouver Island

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