Leaves: Should they stay or should they go?

anna_in_quebec(z4 QC)September 12, 2011

So, my bulbs have nicely fattened up after approx. 2 months in the sun, and very long healthy leaves have developed. A few are turning yellow now, but many are still big and green. My question is this: is there any point/benefit in leaving the healthy foliage on when I take take them to the basement, which should be soon? All I have are fluorescent lights down there. I look forward to hearing from the experts!

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Anna, I am certainly no exert, but most of my bulbs are still growing new leaves. A few of them are going to cooperate and loose their leaves after the cold evenings arrive..not yet though..

Last year I pulled close to 100 bulbs from their pots and stored them for the winter..a formidable task to say the least. There were about 10 or so that were still growing so vigorously that I just let them keep their leaves and continue to grow in the basement under grow lights for the winter. These bulbs in their pots were evergreen and still bloomed at their whim in the middle of winter. The bulbs that I pulled, lost a lot of their water weight and of course the roots were all dried up and I had to start from scratch..and I wasn't too happy with the results. This year all my plants are going to stay in their pots and we're going to have to clear off more space and put up another grow light or two...I don't know how dark your basement is, but give it a try with a number of your pots and let them keep their leaves, they may loose some but keep 2 or 3 as was the case with mine. Good Luck

I have a Rainbow that is sending up one of those very short stalks and the flower is opening and a Cherry Nymph that is about 6" and starting to open too...I really don't like these short stalks..


    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 4:01PM
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kaboehm (zone 9a, TX USA)

Uh oh...do you want my opinion?? I'm no expert, but last year I hauled all my long strapping foliage into the greenhouse. Great frog hiding places!! This year I am going to whack the leaves back to 18". Keep in mind many of my leaves are 4" wide and 4' tall!! Then...as they die back in the greenhouse, I will cut to the neck.

OH...the controversy!! cut or leave leaves? Cut or leave necks??

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 4:16PM
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[citate].the controversy!! cut or leave leaves? Cut or leave necks?? [/citate]
If you do not sterilize the cutting tool - it's the best way to spread diseases, especially viral.
I cut the leaves never, why? They turn yellow and dry up in dry and cool, if you are not overfed or bulbs were not fed too late. If they have a hard dry leaves do not - put them in a dark and cool place. But certainly not in the refrigerator.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 6:13PM
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kaboehm (zone 9a, TX USA)

Forgot to repeat for the umteenth time that I sterilize the blade with alcohol between each cutting plant. With over 200 and I'm guessing fast approaching 300 hybrids in pots, it will be quite a bit of work. I do cut the necks down to open them up and dust with captan. This gave me a huge % of reblooming bulbs this spring.

What is so nice about hippeastrum...? You can do what works for you. So, be open to the suggestions of others because unlike the Ukraine, it rarely gets cool near Houston, Texas (Pat can chime in about the number of 100-degree days this summer). Once in the greenhouse, all watering stops and they try to go dormant...they never really do. But, I do tidy them up so that bugs, etc don't hide between layers.

So Anna, do what works for you!!

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 8:06PM
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I don't know if this is true or not but I always imagined that bulbs "suck in" nutrients from dying leaves that are no longer needed.

Bulbs seem to get noticeably plumper while the leaves are dying and they are going dormant. I have yanked garlic out of the ground while it was herbacious, left it to dry on a counter in the dark inside, and the bulbs definitely got bigger/rounder as the leaves died.

I also saw an experiment where a grass seed was planted in soil that was completely devoid of phosphorus, a vital nutrient. As the plant grew, it always put out the next leaf exactly as the previous leaf was dying, so that it could recycle the phosphorus. Finally the plant bloomed, produced a single seed, and died as that seed plumped up.

So I would move them into dormancy while leaves are still on them, and just pull the leaves off when they yellow and come right off with only the slightest tug.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 9:09PM
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Also, I should add, I wait until flower stems are getting wilty before I remove them, for the same reason.

Once I cut off a "fresh" hippeastrum flower stem just after the last flower faded, set it on the windowsill and forgot it, and was surprised to see that the 1 remaining pod swelled and developed simply with the water, energy and nutrients that was in the stem at the time it was cut. Most of the seeds in the pods were white/undeveloped but there were a couple of developed seeds in each chamber that must have been able to draw energy and nutrients from the stem. I never had any intention of sprouting them so didn't try.

With all bulbs, when removing the dead flowers I cut directly below the ovary and leave the stem intact. Flower stems are, at the very least, green and therefore photosynthetic, so the plant can decide on its own when to let them die.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 9:18PM
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Wonderful advice, that was quite amazing, I feel like I've learned something.

I had the same thing happen with a hippeastrum inflorescence too, I cut it off and the seeds continued to develop and I tested germination and the majority germinated!!! I think I spoke about this in earlier posts stating how they continued to grow, they must contain nutrients that feed something!



    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 11:08PM
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[ ]You can do what works for you.[]
This is true, but Texas is also not Quebec. But all the same weather we have more like to Anna.

And here's the problem, based on your thesis - that any sharing of experiences and observations is meaningless, because we all have different conditions.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 5:08AM
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kaboehm (zone 9a, TX USA)


Sorry if I've offended you.

I think it is important to share, but there are limits to what may be useful to each of us, as you said because of the different growing conditions.

If someone doesn't want to deal with all the leaves, I saw no harm last year in cutting them to a reasonable height and letting them go dormant from there. That should apply wherever you live. As long as you are clean about it...disinfecting tools between each plant.


    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 10:01AM
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IF you move your bulbs from a GROW-Place to a STORAGE-Place then you are well advised, to cut the leaves down. Unless you can actually provide a nice, bright location for every individual pot, without any crowding.
Preparing for storage by cutting the leaves is from a practical consideration, a good idea; you can by far better control for and cure infection respectively, the worst infection being bulb scale mites with subsequent superinfection from red blotch.
Keeping your bulbs with leaves, does not provide CONSIDERABLE advantages in mature bulbs. It makes sense in younger bulbs (seedlings), that are yet to reach maturity.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 10:02AM
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[]offended[]? No :))
We have a proverb: "To carry water offended".
Two:Our country's second-largest European area after Russia, it is larger than France. Therefore, the climate in different parts - different. For example, on the southern Crimean coast - of the Mediterranean type it, in the steppes - a warm and dry, in the extreme north-east - both in Russia and the far west of the West-European.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 11:09AM
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kaboehm (zone 9a, TX USA)

Also, as I cut, I inspect...so just another thing to do before they go in the greenhouse for the winter. Last year I didn't cut before they went in and it was a mess....lots of mushy leave all over the place! At least this year they will be manageable, I hope.

They have had a very good summer...HOT with ample water (sprinkler....like rain)...haven't lost anyone to rot...and see no disease at all. I'll see if my rebloom rate is high again!!

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 1:28PM
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