pbs Digest, Vol 36, Issue 16: Fertilizers and geophytes

Warren extropian@optusnet.com.au
Sun, 15 Jan 2006 19:50:58 PST
Hello all,
             I've just recently joined the PBS and entered a controversy
about the best kind of fertiliser for bulbs.
             Well, just like humans and other animals, plants enjoy a varied
diet. But this could be allied to seasonal requirements. When a bulb is
preparing to leave dormancy it has built up as much nutrient as it could
extract from the potting/garden medium and its leaves before it went into
dormancy at the end of the previous season. To assist in optimum growth and
to impart improved disease resistance a diet rich in calcium will benefit
all bulbs. Probably the best chemical to help here is Calcium nitrate
[CaNO3, reagent grade  is pure enough] One level tbsp dissolved in 10lt of
water at the beginning when the bulb is calling upon all its resources to
start the new season will add greater vigour and disease resistance. This
should be in addition to your regular feeding regime. Once a month or even 2
months is sufficient. With a full complement of leaves the bulb will start
to arouse the scape and flower tissue it formed as an embryo the previous
season. This is when a feed with a higher phosporous content is called for
so use a fertiliser that has a higher P ratio than you used at the
beginning. Keep the potassium level about constant throughout the season
As the leaves die off the bulb draws back to itself the useful chemicals
stored in the leaves, so healthy strong leaves are necessary during the
entire season so that the bulb is well nourished and the embryo of next
season's flowers are formed and stored in a healthy bulb resistant to attack
by pathogens during dormancy.
I would stress that ammonium-based [NH4] fertilisers are to be avoided as
they encourage fungal growth in potting media and many of these are
pathogens that will sicken or kill plants by rotting roots and other tissue.
Warren Glover
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Adam Fikso" <irisman@ameritech.net>
To: <pbs@lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Monday, January 16, 2006 5:11 AM
Subject: Re: [pbs] pbs Digest, Vol 36, Issue 16: Fertilizers and geophytes

> Don't believe the words on the packages about what is FOR what, as in
> is FOR getting scum off of tile"; this (detergent) is FOR washing dishes,
> this hair shampoo is FOR your very, oh-so special hair that no other
> with conditioners will treat so well, etc., along with "coral calcium" all
> natural, not that awful synthetic chemical stuff.  About 98.99%  nonsense,
> and marketing hype.
> It's my experience that most plants will take what they need and do much
> better treated with less rather than more fertilizer.  There are
> which are often keyed to time of year and availability of water
> corresponding to the plant's ability to take it up based on IT'S needs not
> yours. Many of the difficulties that gardeners have today is in
> overwatering, and prepaering a nice "bed' for the plant to sleep in where
> promptly does just that.. goes to sleep forever.  What's needed is to do
> one's homework and try to learn about the growing conditions of the
> provenance of the plant-- assuming that one is not dealing with  a Dutch
> garden hybrid that has been bred to live and grow under extremely
> conditions.
> On another plant group's list right now, it has become apparent that
> Arisaema candidissimum dies readily in most people's gardens because it's
> overfed, overwatered, and over sheltered from the sun. If it was a kid,
> say it was "spoiled", ie., overindulged...so it doesn't "learn" to grow
> roots, and furthermore, can't learn, because it's denied the opportunity.
> It's parents are in too much of a hurry to see the flowers, to have the
> get into a "good" school.  Intellectual garbage in both places.
> Arisaema candidissimum does best in relatively poor sandy or clayey soil
> with a fair amount of bound up calcium in the form of rocks or plaster,
> anywhere from 4-6 hours of direct or dappled sunlight each day.  Watered
> from time to time at a level that is so scant that it doesn't quite kill
> astilbe, where the ground can get hard as a rock. It seems to do better
> coarse sand mixed into the clayey loam, and with other plants around it to
> perhaps take up extra moisture, or if it's on a slope.
> The main mistake I think, made about assessing growth requirements for
> arisaemas in the past has been that if the collector  sees plants growing
> a woodland, the assumption is made that they are shade-loving, so, this is
> reported andas a consquence then, they are shaded in our gardens and
> too much.  But think! How long has the plant been there?.  Was it as
> when it germinated?  Were the trees around it as tall, and as close
> together?   If the plant is 25-30 years old and a really nice big
> was probably NOT  as shaded when it first grew there.  If you want a nice
> big one--maybe you should give it some sun--and leave it alone. Don't fuss
> with it, disturbing its roots all the time.   Water it in--make sure it
> established, but then just watch it and minister to it, don't choke it.
> One point of view:  Adam in Glenview, IL erstwhile Zone 5a
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: <pbs-request@lists.ibiblio.org>
> To: <pbs@lists.ibiblio.org>
> Sent: Sunday, January 15, 2006 11:00 AM
> Subject: pbs Digest, Vol 36, Issue 16
> > Send pbs mailing list submissions to
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> >
> > Today's Topics:
> >
> >   1. Best bulb fertilizer (Darren Sage)
> >   2. Re: Best bulb fertilizer (Mary Sue Ittner)
> >
> >
> > ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> >
> > Message: 1
> > Date: Sun, 15 Jan 2006 15:02:37 +0000
> > From: "Darren Sage" <darrensage100@hotmail.com>
> > Subject: [pbs] Best bulb fertilizer
> > To: pbs@lists.ibiblio.org
> > Message-ID: <BAY101-F27FC1A5D236F1DD7580C36E0180@phx.gbl>
> > Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed
> >
> > I have just picked up on this old mail.
> >
> > Ideally, what fertiliser ratio of NPK do people prefer?  I have a lot of
> > hippeastrum hybrids, Lilium longifolium and hybrid Gladiolus.
> >
> > Many thanks
> >
> > Darren
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >>From: Mary Sue Ittner <msittner@mcn.org>
> >>Reply-To: Pacific Bulb Society <pbs@lists.ibiblio.org>
> >>To: Pacific Bulb Society <pbs@lists.ibiblio.org>
> >>Subject: [pbs] Tomato Fertilizer
> >>Date: Mon, 07 Nov 2005 11:52:41 -0800
> >>
> >>Dear All,
> >>
> >>A number of years ago Diana Chapman recommended tomato fertilizer as an
> >>excellent source of fertilizer for bulbs. I believe she mentioned a
> >>of 5-10-10. Others have continued to repeat this advice. I began to look
> >>for tomato fertilizer and never found any in the ratio she recommended.
> >>found huge variations in the ingredients of what was referred to as
> >>fertilizer. They were not all low in nitrogen. If Diana and I both live
> >>California and there is this huge difference just in our state, think
> >>that could be magnified around the world.  I'm not sure what would be
> >>best common denominator when explaining what to look for. Is the ratio
> >>Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium everywhere?
> >>
> >>Mary Sue
> >>
> >>_______________________________________________
> >>pbs mailing list
> >>pbs@lists.ibiblio.org
> >>http://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/list.php
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > ------------------------------
> >
> > Message: 2
> > Date: Sun, 15 Jan 2006 07:54:53 -0800
> > From: Mary Sue Ittner <msittner@mcn.org>
> > Subject: Re: [pbs] Best bulb fertilizer
> > To: Pacific Bulb Society <pbs@lists.ibiblio.org>
> > Message-ID: <>
> > Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"; format=flowed
> >
> > Dear Darren,
> >
> > I'm not trying to discourage people from answering your question, but do
> > think that when a post from the past is quoted it is helped to check the
> > archives for the discussion that followed it:
> > http://pacificbulbsociety.org/pbslist/old.php/…
> >
> > Tomato fertilizer is the subject to look for.
> >
> > I found this to be a fascinating thread, especially the confirmation
> > tomato fertilizers vary widely and that we cannot share cross country
> > ratios since NPK ratios are not internationally compatible.
> >
> > Specifically the post from Lee Poulsen that included Jim Lykos' post is
> > instructive. (O.K. I concede that in this situation including the whole
> > post saved time, but I still would rather people not do it for the sake
> > digest subscribers.)
> > http://pacificbulbsociety.org/pbslist/old.php/…
> >
> > Discussions about fertilizers are always interesting because there seems
> > to
> > be such a wide range of differences in what people do and what works and
> > doesn't work so advice on what formula to use is difficult. So much
> > depends
> > on the plant, the climate, and the medium that plant is growing in.
> >
> > Mary Sue
> >
> >
> >
> > ------------------------------
> >
> > _______________________________________________
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> > http://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/list.php
> >
> >
> > End of pbs Digest, Vol 36, Issue 16
> > ***********************************
> >
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