Snowdrops - in the green NOT

Jim McKenney
Fri, 08 Apr 2005 08:35:10 PDT
Jim Waddick wrote: "Surely readers can suggest other bulbs that require
'fresh' treatment."

One bulb pops to the top of my list of bulbs to be given the "fresh"
treatment:  Leucojum vernum. Other candidates: Allium ursinum (some of you
may wonder why anyone would care if this one lives), Fritillaria in general
and Ornithogalum nutans (another which some may want to know how to get rid
of). Leucojum aestivum on the other hand, is no fussier than most daffodils,
probably because of its comparatively large bulb size, and (not to
deliberately contradict my bulb-size hypothesis) Acis autumnalis takes
drying well, too.

One common-sense generalization: the smaller the bulb, the more likely it
will respond favorably to the "fresh" treatment. And that's doubly true for
many untunicated bulbs. 

I respectfully consider my esteemed colleagues to have come down too hard on
the "in the green" business. All of my "better" snowdrops came to me from
across the pond "in the green". And they went on to bloom the next year
without incident. There was also the added bonus that some carried viable
seed pods. Obviously, my suppliers knew what they were doing. 

I'm not arguing for a return to or the promotion of the "in the green"
practice, but it did serve a good purpose: it called everyone's attention to
the need to handle certain bulbs in fresh condition. It provided an
important alternative. Above, I mentioned the different ways the several
species of Leucojum/Acis respond to drying. Nor do all snowdrops respond the
same way. In the bad old days, Galanthus elwesii stocks almost always gave a
good account of themselves when purchased dry. But Galanthus nivalis and its
cultivars and hybrids were another story: they almost always came with
problems. (And as an aside:  this difference is reflected in their seeds.
Those of G. elwesii are hard, round and take drying well. Those of G.
nivalis are soft, seemingly semi-embryonic and with a large, slowly-absorbed
elaiosome and do not, in my experience, dry well.) 

Until recently (and still in this country) named cultivars of Galanthus
elwesii were all but unknown. But even here in the backwaters of
galanthomania the cultivars of G. nivalis are known and sought out. Some of
the oldest cultilvars such as 'S. Arnott' and 'Viridapicis' are appearing on
the mass distribution catalogs. I don't think we should be doing anything to
lessen the pressure on commercial suppliers to provide healthy, growable

"In the green" I think we all agree is an extreme. But don't forget, the
word "fresh" has no legal definition, and it will mean whatever the
circumstances will demand. Has everyone forgotten what some grocery stores
sell as "fresh"? It seems to me that "Know your supplier" is the mantra to
keep in mind when buying snowdrops. 

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where things are really
popping, and I wish I knew a supplier who knows how to handle Eranthis
hyemalis. Eranthis in the green? Sounds good to me! 

-----Original Message-----
From: []
On Behalf Of James Waddick
Sent: Friday, April 08, 2005 10:46 AM
To: Pacific Bulb Society
Subject: [pbs] Snowdrops - in the green NOT

Dear Louise and John;
	As you both preach, the tradition of 'In-the-green*' is 
nutsy. I propose that we use a "new" term - "Fresh**". This is oppose 
to the usual dried*** to crispness of traditional fall bulbs. Many 
bulbs are severely stressed by drying to this crisp state. Lycoris 
and Galanthus are just two genera that share this need to be kept 
fresh during dormancy. If not allowed to dry totally they can be dug 
when the foliage has ripened, stored for a few months and sent while 
still in a fresh state without stress or set back.

Some definitions:

	*In the green	Bulbs are dug with all foliage green, roots 
intact, even soil attached. Some bulbs tolerate this for a quick move 
from one part of the garden to another or for modest division. An 
emergency only.

	**Fresh	Bulbs are allowed to ripen their foliage, enter 
dormancy and are then dug and stored in a cool, dark moist state. 
They may be divided and cleaned of most soil. Roots may/or may not 
dry out. Such bulbs are shipped for later planting or around the 

	***Dry	Bulbs are dug after foliage has ripened, they a re 
dried in a warm dry spot for days or weeks. Usually all foliage roots 
and soil are removed. Outer tunics and skin are crispy and flaky. 
Very dry to the touch. Bulbs are stored warm and dry until shipping 
or replanting.

	I suggest that some bulbs TOLERATE a variety of conditions, 
but others are severely stressed by improper digging and storage.

	Surely readers can suggest other bulbs that require 'fresh'

		Best		Jim W.
Dr. James W. Waddick
8871 NW Brostrom Rd.
Kansas City Missouri 64152-2711
Ph.    816-746-1949
Zone 5 Record low -23F
	Summer 100F +

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