Jane McGary
Wed, 21 Mar 2007 18:36:20 PDT
Today I was watering the bulbs in the frames for an hour or so. Those of us 
who live in climates where dry-summer bulbs need overhead protection 
against excessive rain often concentrate on keeping water off them, but 
it's just as important to keep water on them when they need it. Most of 
these plants depend on spring runoff during their peak season of growth, 
even those that flower in fall and put on foliage in spring. If your bulbs 
have a dry spring, artificial or natural, think about where they live 
naturally and how much water they get then. When I read about the 
rediscovery of Tecophilaea cyanocrocus, for example, I realized that it is 
a snowmelt plant like many Lewisia species, or Oxalis adenophylla (which 
grows best in hollows where snow lies late). I always remember the advice 
of Fritz Kummert about growing Juno irises: he said they can hardly get too 
much water during their spring growth period.

Some growers fertilize their bulbs with every watering, but I just 
fertilize them three times in spring (once in fall) and use plain water at 
other times. Those that can stand as much rain and intermittent frost as 
they get here in northern Oregon are grown uncovered.

And frost can come after a long period without it: last night, for 
instance. This morning Magnolia 'Caerhays Belle' was transformed from a 
tower of pink silk into a tower of dirty dishrags

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