info@auchgourishbotanicgarden.org info@auchgourishbotanicgarden.org
Fri, 17 Apr 2009 13:29:50 PDT
Linda Kumin, Mark and Adam have both given you excellent tips and advice. 

I would add that it seems pretty self evident now that one of the biggest mistakes growers of all geophyte bulbs, indeed virtually all plants, make or have made (moi included) is to fail to research their native habitats---soils, rainfall patterns and ambient temps both max & minimum.

However here's a wee tip from a hairy Highlander in Scotland, so far touch wood, we do not suffer from attacks by virus, botrytis, nematodes, etc. unless found on bulbs whose first stop over is at the small quarantine unit. Wherever possible there is simply no alternative to disease control from virus initially than to grow from seed, an opportunity of course not available to all of us all of the time, virus is not known to be transmittable from/through seed. I do not ever use the now limited range of chemical controls, except from weed clearance from the garden's path system where Roundup is now the only practical legal option following the removal of others here in Europe. 

You could try to use the 'Hot Water Treatment' system on newly arrived bulbs before you plant them, this is very effective at destroying over wintering nematodes, fusarium and other nasties. One other method is to use a highly dilute domestic bleach in warm water for around a few minutes and then rinsing them in clean warm water again for a few minutes, very rarely can fungal,  virus or parasites such as nematodes manage to survive that treatment which for lilies is really good but for jacketed bulbs like tulipa more care needs to be taken to ensure total control.

One of the best controls and protections from disease and other 'problems' is to plant on appropriate sites with appropriate soils, Lilium which I do most work with should almost always be planted on free draining ground, preferably on a slope too if possible, certainly not on or in clay as that's a fast track for losses. All our bulbous plants, whether Lilium, Iris, Tulipa, etc, etc grow on and in pure sands and gravels derived from acid granite rock, everybody has different approaches but so far so good.

Some of the Tulipa species which you mention are infected by a disease called Tulip Breaking Virus which gives them the pretty patterns and colours however this virus is catastrophic for most Lilium and easily transferred between these genera by sap sucking Aphids such as green fly which are most troublesome when there is high humidity and poor air circulation. One control in a sense of limiting infestations, and length of, are cold winters however I would imagine in areas of e.g. coastal California it must be very frustrating on account of sea fogs and warm air during the summers because very often once the plants have ended flowering folk tend not to look out for Aphid colonisation however they will keep on transferring virus right on into Autumn as long as there is green foliage of any sort to suck.

Miss Kumin you say you are new to gardening, so is everyone, there are no experts in gardening, perhaps a few deluded fools who think or fancy that they are, but we all make mistakes, usually often and always year in year out, welcome to the club, happy gardening but try not to mix Lilium with non species Tulipa. The 'greigii' type tulips are most often than not hybrids of one sort or the other based to varying degrees on the true species Tulipa greigii, the others using that name are a bit like Heinz 57 varieties. The other lilies you mention by name, except Tulipa tarda per se which is a true botanical species, if sold true to name, sometimes a big 'IF' all the others mentioned are either clones or hybrids grown under intensive systems majored on by the Dutch growers and they are now so reliant on chemicals due to over intensive agriculture even their ground water is contaminated with soluble nitrates from various forms of farming including intensive pig rearing. Best of luck with your organic systems which are infinitely superior if you can make it work, admittedly it isn't easy and makes very often for extra work but far more satisfying if not exactly financially rewarding in commerical terms under the present regimes governments around the world permit.

Incidentally did you know that your name Kumin, as more often spelt in the old countries as 'Cummin' or here in Scotland Cumming, and variations thereof, is derived from the Cumin plant, a herb often used in cookery, but was used as a so called Plant Badge by that family to distinguish themselves during battle. More titbits of useless information.


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