Bulbs staying dormant

Paul Tyerman ptyerman@ozemail.com.au
Wed, 04 Jun 2003 06:39:00 PDT
>One other comment. Calochortus, like a lot of other bulbs, sometimes 
>chooses to stay underground so you may find you have more than you think in 
>subsequent years. Hugh MacDonald once wrote he was amazed when he emptied 
>out pots where nothing had grown to find there were bulbs there after all.

Mary Sue,

I found this out this year in particular as I have had a variety of
Gladiolus tristis die out in its pot this last season.  It is the form
'Aestivalis' with the markings on the outside of the petals, and the
chevrons inside.  I put it this way as I have heard that they are no longer
separately divided into varieties, although I know them as var tristis, var
aestivalis and var concolor.  Anyway, back to the deaths.... there was one
tiny little shoot last season where there had been a small clump, which had
dwindled to a single flwoering stem, then last season the small shoot.  I
repotted it this dormancy and found something in the vicinity of around 200
(!!!) bulbs in the small pot it was in.  Most were very small, but there
were a number of adult sized bulbs there that had not made an appearance in
a couple of years, plus there had never been any sign of the miriads of
offsets.  In all my other varieties of tristis teh adults and offsets grow
happily together every year so the adult bulbs obviously don't produce a
growth inhibitor to stop the offsets growing...... they were just all
skipping growing in this particular pot.  Since repotting the 'Aestivalis'
and splitting them into 2 pots there are numerous shoots appearing or
various different sizes, so obviously the repot helped to stimulate them?

I knew that Moraeas did this (my Moraea polystachyas have not come up AGAIN
this year dammit) but I had no idea that Gladiolus did this as well.  Now
it is interesting to hear that Calochortus do it as well.

I realise I have gone a fair way from the Calochortus 'Golden Orb' that
started this, so I have changed the subject line to reflect this.  What I
want to ask is can people tell me which genus are notorious for doing this
skipping of growing seasons?  My Moraea polystachyus are giving me the
irits as they again fail to make their appearance, but they are one of my
favourite Moraeas so I will persevere, but I would be interested to know
what other genus do this and I would REALLY like to know what causes them
to do this and whether it is possible to STOP them doing this.  

To give the full story on the Moraea polystachyus....... I am almost ready
to give up on my favourite species of Moraea because I now have 5 bulbs in
4 different situations, all of which don't come up for me anymore.  O
originally bought 2, planted them together and one flowered fine for 4
years where it was and then has skipped the subsequent 3.  The second bulb
growing right next to it grew the first year and has now skipped the last 6
years.  I also bought 3 bulbs a few years back of which only one grew the
first year and all three have skipped the two years since.  I have split
these into different pots/ground now to see if I can trigger their growth
but I am completely stumped!!  All 5 should be up by now but there isn't a
sign of them.  Thankfully the last one of them that flowered I managed to
collect seed from and these seedlings are growing quite happily.  By the
look of it they will flower for me before I ever see one of the adult bulbs
flower again (the seedlings are 2 seasons old now so there is hope for
flowers soon I think?)

What am I doing wrong?  I am not even going to get into the orange
Ornithogalum dubium that have never grown since I got them 3 years ago, yet
the bulbs are still there.  It is enough to make you give up on them....
well almost <grin>.

I'll stop my ranting now.  Hopefully someone can help?  Which other genus
do this, why do they do it, and is there a way to rectify the situation.  A
bulb lying doggo for 6 years is just plain ridiculous!!

Thanks in anticipation of any help.  If I take time to respond to questions
or responses then please forgive me.  I suffer from Chronic Fatigue and I
often cannot use the computer for days at a time.  I will respond as soon
as I download the email.


Paul Tyerman
Canberra, Australia.  USDA equivalent - Zone 8/9

Growing.... Galanthus, Erythroniums, Fritillarias, Cyclamen, Crocus,
Cyrtanthus, Liliums, Hellebores, Aroids, Irises plus just about anything
else that doesn't move!!!!!

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