Dormant bulbs

Jane McGary
Sat, 26 Jun 2010 10:01:02 PDT
I agree with Arnold's intuition and Lauw's professional opinion that 
any bulb should be put back into soil as soon as it's feasible. When 
I was selling surplus bulbs from my collection, I kept those without 
permanent roots in paper bags for a few weeks, but I kept them in a 
cool, dim room (my dining room -- no dinner parties in August!). 
Those without tunics and those with permanent roots I put in very 
slightly moistened vermiculite in plastic sandwich bags inside the 
paper bags, and also shipped them in vermiculite.

I have a related question now that I hope one of our professional 
growers can answer. I need to lift a lot of narcissus and colchicum 
bulbs to move them to my new garden. Our region has just experienced 
the wettest late spring ever recorded, and the soil is much damper 
than it would normally be at this time of year. My instinct tells me 
that I should leave these bulbs undisturbed until the soil dries out, 
even if their foliage has withered. Is this right, or can I lift and 
replant them even if there is still some moisture in the soil? The 
soil here is well drained gritty loam, but not sand. And should I 
spread out the colchicum corms in a dry place after I lift them, or 
can I just put them in paper bags for 4 to 6 weeks?

I'm also lifting some erythroniums and trilliums soon, but I'm going 
to pot them up immediately. My potted bulbs in the frames (which are 
presently being dismantled, no doubt to the detriment of some of the 
bulbs that got more rain than they would want) should be able to stay 
in their pots until the deep beds in the new bulb house are ready to 
receive them in August.

At least the awful weather (it was also very cold) seems to have 
delayed the emergence of the bulb fly so long that the narcissus 
foliage that would usually attract it is completely withered and 
removed. I had also protected the sternbergias and galanthus with 
Reemay (under glass) and with a topdressing of gravel  or bark, 
respectively (in the open).

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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