summer bulb storage

Fri, 29 Jun 2012 11:23:53 PDT
I would like to add a few points that may be helpful, even if they pertain
mostly to growers in warm dry summer climates like SoCal. While I generally
keep everything-- a wide range of winter geophytes-- perfectly dry over our
warm summers, with overhead shading, what Jane said about some of these
plants needing a little 'off season' splash of water is very true. Usually
such plants will give notice that they need or enjoy water while resting by
holding onto some green leaves but this is not always true. Bulbs with
perennial roots like most amaryllids presumably benefit more from such
sprinkling than those that lose their roots entirely each season: many
irids, oxalis, hyacinths, etc. Geographic range provides a hint: many East
Cape and karroo bulbs are essentially winter growing (as with Haworthia,
some mesembs, etc.) but are subject to significant summer rains that they
need to be healthy and strong.

Somewhere I read that California is the driest of all the Mediterranean
biomes and that South Africa's Western Cape often experiences, by
comparison, more summer precipitation that likely moderates an otherwise
harsh summer dry period. What Jane stressed about sprinkling rather than
drenching is very important-- the idea is to moderate soil conditions a
little (contributing moisture and coolness) and not give so much water that
roots are stimulated.

Virtually all my repotting is done at season's beginning (Oct or so) or
during growth. In my experience it is not good to repot any plant and then
leave the soil dry and loose; the soil needs to be 'congealed' so that
particles interlock and insulate roots and begin to attain structural
integrity. Dry soil left to dry further can become hydrophobic and require
rainfall or soaking from below to become thoroughly moistened again. Dry,
unwatered soil also provides access to drying air and pests like root

All my winter bulbs are exposed or partly exposed to the elements in
winter. At least some direct sun is very helpful and I find that rain is
infinitely more beneficial than any irrigation program. In El Nino years I
always fear that some delicate plants will drown but after a week of rain
almost all look better than ever.

Dylan Hannon

On 28 June 2012 11:59, Gastil <> wrote:

> Thank you Leo, Arnold, John, Jane and Dylan,
> As Arnold notes, it should depend on the type of bulb and their native
> growing conditions. I have chosen primarily species from the Cape and
> Mediterranean climates to match the climate here in Santa Barbara.
> It is interesting to hear from your variety of climates. Given the
> near-certainty of no rain here until September, I will only dig up what I
> need to for other purposes, will re-plant immediately without storage, will
> remove dried leaves and stalks (no worries re seeds: Ive aleady harvested
> those). I will not mulch with bark-based material; I may mulch thinly with
> gravel, chick grit, or coarse pumice. Jane's note on avoiding bark-based
> potting mix explains the white fibers I have seen so I will make my own
> soil mix. I will not dig up any of the seedlings, as tempting as it is to
> check their progress. And yes, time is limited. Thank you for the practical
> and experienced advice.
> - Gastil
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> pbs mailing list


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