storage of summer dormant bulbs

Tue, 08 Jul 2008 18:08:39 PDT
I know that some growers prefer to repot each year but for all my geophytes
I allow them to remain in their containers. Typically a pot of bulbs or a
single bulb will stay in the same (very lean and sandy) mix for several
years. This scenario provides for excellent insulation against heat and
desiccation and other damage; I keep all containers shaded over the summer.
This approach has worked well for me in two key areas: saving time and
effort, and keeping the plants happy.

One year I decided to store my lachenalias in small paper bags over the
summer and it was a disaster. A type of "bulb mealybug" (not root mealy) got
into almost every bag due to the ease of access, and I did not discover the
damage until fall.

Dylan Hannon

Dylan Hannon Rare Bulbs

On Tue, Jul 8, 2008 at 2:08 PM, Jim McKenney <>

> This year I'm making an effort to get all of my summer dormant bulb
> collection out of the ground (or out of their pots) for a census followed
> by
> storage in the house until they are replanted in late summer or early fall.
> It's obvious that not all bulbs need the same summer treatment. For
> instance
> tunicated bulbs such as tulips generally store without problems while
> un-tunicated bulbs such as frits can be very touchy about moisture levels.
> In fact, in my experience Fritillaria are subject to injurious desiccation
> when stored dry and exposed to air.
> One potentially useful aid is the use of plastic bags. But I've learned the
> hard way that there is a right way to do it. Janis Ruksans in his Buried
> Treasures advises caution in the use of plastic bags, and he's right: many
> bulbs will quickly rot if taken moist from the ground as they are entering
> dormancy and placed in plastic bags.
> But I'm convinced that frits need an artificial tunic if they are to
> withstand dry storage. For the big frits such as Fritillaria imperialis and
> F. persica, I wrap the individual bulbs in newspaper. This not only
> prevents
> too much drying, but the newspaper cushions the tender bulbs. For small
> frits I put them in envelopes of newspaper for two or three weeks, checking
> them occasionally to see how things are going. Once I'm convinced that they
> are no longer losing water and are thoroughly dry, I move them into plastic
> bags for the rest of the storage period.
> These plastic storage bags have several advantages, the most interesting
> one
> being that one can easily observe the bulbs as they undergo subtle changes
> during dormancy.  They also make it easy to quickly spot problems such as
> mold or rot. And if the bulbs begin to look too dry, it's easy to give them
> a light spritz of water. I think that to do this early in the storage
> period
> would kill them; but later in the summer it seems to help them.
> After reading the above, I realized that I've been puffing away as if I
> were
> an expert about this. But I'm still feeling my way, and luckily enjoying
> some successes. Don't take this as advice. I'm really just fishing for
> responses here: what do the rest of you do?
> I mentioned Janis Ruksan's Buried Treasures above. I was lucky to meet and
> spend hours alone with Janis during the Washington, D.C. leg of his tour. I
> took a real liking to him. But now that I've spent some time with his book,
> I sincerely and respectfully wish his publisher had taken up Jane McGary's
> offer to edit the book. The occasionally clumsy English is not the problem.
> A sympathetic, experienced, knowledgeable editor with a backbone would have
> avoided other infelicities, such as the irritating and  seemingly
> irrelevant
> blocks of text touting plants easily available in the current trade. Whose
> idea was that?
> Jim McKenney
> Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, 39.03871º North, 77.09829º West, USDA
> zone
> 7, where seed is about to ripen on Sprekelia formosissima.
> My Virtual Maryland Garden
> Webmaster Potomac Valley Chapter, NARGS
> Editor PVC Bulletin
> Webmaster Potomac Lily Society
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