Bulb pests

Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Sun, 20 Jun 2004 12:41:32 PDT
Rodger wrote, >We have a great many feral narcissus here and they host 
>flies in huge numbers. Many cultivars disappear in one year. I've
>taken to growing my favorites in large pots and putting these in the
>shade one the flowers are over. The narcissus fly does not seem to
>attack bulbs in the shade.

I was told this many years ago and it seems to work for me, too -- plant 
narcissus in shade. I have colonies of naturalized cultivars of various 
kinds that have not diminished in almost 20 years in shade. However, 
certain kinds, such as 'Ice Follies' and the 'Little Beauty' early 
miniature types also persist in full sun. I think the latter may ripen 
their foliage early, since they are early bloomers. I've been told that it 
is either the color or the scent of the withering leaves that attracts the 
bulb fly, and I've never seen bulb flies here until quite late in spring, 
since the soil remains cold most springs. Curiously I did not see (or hear, 
which is how one usually spots them) any bulb flies around the frames this 
year, but I bet they were out looking at some point.

The past couple of years I've been covering my more precious pot-grown 
bulbs -- not just narcissus but also Sternberia and Galanthus -- with 
Reemay (nonwoven row cover) after flowering. This product is very cheap and 
can be tucked around the edge of the plunged pots. You could also use it in 
the garden with metal pins, though it would be unsightly. This prevents the 
flies from landing on the plants and laying their eggs, and doesn't require 
a pesticide applicator's license, either.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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