Crocus for Georgia (USA) , was In bloom now

Jim McKenney
Wed, 07 Dec 2005 08:29:15 PST
Steve Burger and I are at opposite ends of what can be seen as essentially
the same growing zone. He's at the far southern end where summers are hotter
and bitter cold in the winter is briefer, but otherwise I'll bet our growing
conditions have a lot in common. Undisturbed, un-amended soils here are
often red clay, and during the summer they eat bulbs voraciously. It's worth
noting that there are very few true bulbs in the native flora. 
I'll bet if Steve amends his soil to keep it porous and open he'll have
better luck with many bulbs. Raised beds can help, too, as can covering the
beds during the period when the bulbs are dormant. And there is also the
odious option of digging the bulbs for the summer, and while this certainly
prevents summer rotting, it also sometimes results in severely desiccated

Mark McDonough has reported (search the archives - maybe Mark will have time
to comment himself) success with mounds of amended soil around trees and
shrubs - the idea being that the trees and shrubs draw out excess moisture. 

I'll stick my neck out and say that, based on decades of experience, there
are only a few crocus types which will persist indefinitely under our
conditions, but there are many more which will quickly disappear if planted
in the open garden. Crocus ochroleucus is one which for me has lasted for
many years in the garden, but eventually disappears unless protected.  

And it sometimes has happened that a crocus which I had come to take for
granted suddenly disappears. This happened a few years ago with my entire
stock of the crocus sold as Crocus sieberi 'Firefly'. For many years it was
everywhere in my bulb beds. And then the year came when it was nowhere. One
of the periodic explosions in the vole population might have been the
reason, but efficient as those little devils are, I doubt that they would
have gotten every one. Whatever the explanation, it happened. 

However he accomplishes it, I think the thing Steve needs to do is to fight
summer moisture. 

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where there is snow on the
ground and more on the way; brightly berried evergreen lily-relatives Danae
and Ruscus shine against the snow. 

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