First watering for fall growing bulbs

Matt Mattus
Mon, 05 Sep 2005 18:17:44 PDT

I also follow Ian's schedule for watering, but to be clear, both Ian, and I,
water generally around the first week of September, but schedules adjust to
start watering when night time temperatures are cooler, generally around the
last week of August through early September. Here, in central Massachusetts,
we started getting chilly nights in the 50's last weekend, so I started
watering my winter growing bulbs that have been placed in their plunges,
waiting for their first "autumn" rains.

Outside bulbs get no special treatment. This only applies to bulbs grown
under protection, which, I believe is what Ian Young also refers to when he
talks about his first watering.

Now, to further clarify, this treatment is applied only to those bulbs that
are tender, the fall and winter blooming bulbs in the greenhouse, the alpine
house and bulb beds. For me, this means the Nerine sarniensis hybrids and
Lachenalia in the glass house, the winter blooming Oxalis, the Tecophilea,
Romulea, Velthiemia, and basically all of the winter blooming South African

Also in the greenhouse, it is the time that I start watering the pots of
Narcissus romieuxii, albidus and the other fall and winter blooming tender
narcissus as well as all of the pots of Cyclamen species, ( C. cilicium, C.
mirabile, C. intaminatum, C.coum and, well, we grow most of them).

All of these were repotted in August and have been awaiting their first
"rain" generally around September 1. I traditionally have started watering
on labor day here in the US which is around the first week of September. If
it is still hot, I wait a week or too.

I prefer not to wait longer since many of the bulbs are already starting to
root, which I believe is triggered by temperature and a sort-of internal
clock, more than by day length. Last week I was still repotting some oxalis
species which I was late repotting, and they all we're starting to root,
even though I had not begun watering yet.

Of course, the first watering is just a signal watering, I soak the plunge
material (sand) and then wait as long as a month before I water again. I
simple water well, until the plunge is dripping, then wait until I see
growth. I would advise that growers of these bulbs wait until they start to
get cooler evening temperatures before starting the growing cycle.

Matt Mattus
Worcester, Massachusetts
USDA Zone 5b

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