Need Help?

Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

See website, design work and favorite flowering plants at  gardengurumontreal.ca

Consultation and coaching for do-it-yourselfers is provided. Occasional emailed questions are welcome and answered free of charge. Oui, je parle francais.

See my work on Pinterest at Garden Guru Montreal

Entries in Tulips (8)

Wednesday
Nov032010

Unorthodox Opinions About Bulb Planting or a New Use for Ski Underwear.

Spring flowering bulbs are planted in autumn when being outdoors, in some parts of the Northern hemisphere, is not always pleasant. Gardeners that are prone to quickly getting chilled, and who feel dampness in their bones more readily than others, should consider wearing a layer of ski underwear [top and bottom] underneath their gardening clothes. It does make a difference - a very big difference. The old fashioned variety that has a bit of wool blended into its fibers is the best- if it is still available. The underwear traps natural body heat to keep the gardener warm.

The most important tool for planting bulbs is a flat kneeling pad made of foam. Do not purchase one that is a cheap promotional quality; a rigid, thick product is best. Its primary purpose is to cushion the knee caps during the planting process but it has another important benefit as well. When two such pads are placed side by side, the gardener can slide over from one work station to the next and from one knee pad to the other, without lifting the body. This helps to avoid the repetitive movement of standing up and kneeling down, an aerobic exercise that can tire out gardeners who are not in good shape. Progressing sideways  from one pad to another is similar to playing leap-frog:  For example, - after the gardener slides from left to right, i.e. from pad No 1 to pad No 2, pad No 1 is then lifted and placed to the right of pad No 2, thereby becoming pad No. 3.

Planting bulbs efficiently requires a set of trowels: - one with an oversized blade and the other, a narrower version of the first. In order to plant tulip or daffodil bulbs, a hole 8 to 10 inches deep must be dug. The larger trowel can only create a hole 6 inches deep on the first try. A second plunge with such a large trowel is unnecessary work. It is easier to switch over to a smaller trowel, whose narrow point can efficiently deepen the first hole by 2 or 4 inches.

Before planting, prepare the trowels so that they can also serve as measuring guides to determine the depth of the holes. Items needed for this task are a ruler, a red permanent marker and pre cut strips of metallic duct tap, cut ¼ inch wide. On the concave side of the blade of the larger trowel and beginning at its tapered point, measure off spots for 2, 3, 4, and 6 inch depths and identify them with the red marker. Each variety of spring flowering bulb needs to be planted at its specifically recommended depth and these markings make it easier to gauge those measurements while digging.

Then, continuing along the handle, mark off the 8 and 10 inch spots. Highlight these last two measurements by wrapping the duct tape strips around the handle at these two spots to create metallic bands. Repeat the handle markings on the narrow trowel as well; its blade portion may already be factory engraved with measurements, depending on the brand purchased.

The 8 inch markings help to gauge the depth of the planting hole for tulips, daffodils and narcissus. The 10 inch spot is used to convert Darwin tulips into perennial bulbs. By planting at 10 instead of the recommended 8 inch depth, the Darwin tulip will work harder to generate growth and that work encourages it to behave like a perennial. However, Species tulips, such as Greigeii, Kaufmanniana and Fosteriana, will perform as perennials when planted at their recommended depths.

Lastly, avoid purchasing tools that are sold as bulb planters, no matter how attractive or clever they appear. They are not user-friendly nor are they efficient. Many such tools are made with a tubular blade that creates a circular hole. However, compacted earth will get stuck inside the tube and removing it is time consuming and arduous work. In addition, avoid drilling holes with an auger bit. Some gardeners report disappointing results with this method.

                                          

 

Monday
Aug312009

Jump Start the Color Display With Tulips

Choosing and planting Tulip bulbs in the fall to bloom in the spring can be a little trickier than selecting Daffodils. Only a few varieties are perennial. Most of the really pretty tulips have a short life. Plant them only if you don't mind lifting and and replaced them after a few years. That’s a lot of work. Perennial varieties of Tulips return year after year and will show no signs of waning if they are fertilized twice during the growing season.

Here is a list of perennial tulips:- Darwin Hybrids in colors of Red, Rose, Orange, yellow and two-tone, Emperor Tulips, some Triumph tulips, Species tulips, Gregeii tulips. There is a grove of red Kaufmania tulips in my garden that have been reblooming reliably for 15 years. For best results, plant tulip bulbs at least 8 inches deep to encourage them to perform as perennials.

Here‘s what to do to ensure that perennial Tulips bloom for many seasons. After the Tulip flower has finished blooming, cut down the stem and head of the tulip. In addition, cut down all of the foliage of that Tulip except for the one large leaf at the base of the plant; allow that leaf to continue to grow until it turns yellow. At that point in time, it may be discarded or can be camouflaged by summer perennials that will  hide it.

Under normal climatic conditions it is possible to protect Tulip bulbs from being eaten by squirrels. Sprinkle chili pepper flakes [capsicum] directly onto the tulip bulb after it has been placed in its hole. Then sprinkle more flakes on top of the earth after the hole has been filled. When squirrels have no problem foraging for traditional nourishment, the chili flakes are a sufficient deterrent. But be forewarned. In some area of North America this does not dissuade the squirrels. You will only know if it works where you live if you try it.

In the previous two blogs that dealt with spring flowering bulbs that are planted in fall, I recommended easy ways to purchase bulbs. That advice applies to Tulips as well.

 

 
Thursday
Aug272009

Spring Flowering Bulbs

Photo courtesy of Home and Garden Webshots, Photo 1295486587I received a catalogue for spring flowering bulbs that are planted in autumn and it reminded me how important it is to include tulips and daffodils in the perennial garden composition. These bulbs jump start the color display of the perennial garden. Spring flowering bulbs are a colorful overture to the upcoming season.

Bulbs may be purchased on line, or at retail garden centers that sell bulbs either from open stock or in prepackaged quantities. When shopping for open stock bulbs, don't leave home without a shopping list. It helps avoid confusion when one is confronted with selections that appear overwhelming. However, be forewarned. Buying from open stock is hard work. Customers are required to fill their own bags on which they must write the kind of bulb, its name, the quantity purchased and the unit price. This is tiresome work because it detracts from what should be a pleasant shopping experience. Garden centers that carry large assortments in open stock may have everything one is looking for but finding the desired items can be frustrating.

Pre-packaged bulbs come with an easily scanned bar code so there is no work to do at the point of sale. Often, these packages are attractively priced. However, garden centers that sell only prep-packaged bulbs may not have that one specific variety the purchaser really wants. Also, one might land up with more bulbs than needed. And yet, I will continue to buy prepackaged bulbs because it saves time and money. Besides, the extra bulbs make a nice hospitality gift when cleverly packaged. Better still; plant the extra bulbs in the garden of a friend.

Mail order is the easiest way to shop, especially with a hard copy of an actual mail order color catalogue on hand. Most catalogue houses have idiot-proof on-line ordering services that save many hours of personal shopping. The shipping charges are a worthwhile trade-off to spending too much time at the store.

 
Page 1 2