Deep planting, was tigridia pavonia

Jane McGary
Thu, 25 Jun 2009 13:53:03 PDT
Frank wrote:
>Perhaps people are planting them too shallow.  I planted some last year
>acording to package directions and they hardly grew at all but I remembered
>how fantastic they grew for me 30 years before.  Many instructions say 2-3
>inches where it should be at least 4-5 inches.

Mostly the instructions that come with commercial bulbs are erroneous 
in this respect. It's remarkable how deep bulbs will "pull down," 
left to their own devices, even in stiff soil. Sometimes this allows 
them to avoid tunneling rodents as well as winter cold. I've noticed 
that themids (Triteleia, Brodiaea, etc.) have much more robust 
flowering once they are quite deep, and I think this is also true of 
Calochortus, even though both may have relatively small bulbs. 
Another kind that survives cold winters if planted deep is Eucomis; I 
see five species doing well in the garden this year after a winter in 
the mid-teens F.

The easiest way to accomplish deep planting is to use an ordinary 
spade, shove it into the soil the full length of the blade, pry the 
soil back, and place the bulbs in the trench thus created; then just 
remove the blade and press the soil back in place. If you're making a 
new bed and either emplacing new soil or double-digging, you can 
place the bulbs during the process.

I think there are a few kinds of bulbs that don't respond well to 
deep planting and normally grow near the soil surface; Scilla (in the 
broad sense) seems to be one.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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