EE bulb barely growing, no leaves

plays_in_dirt_dirt(Z7A VA bordering NC state line)August 4, 2014

Perhaps I should post this on the bulb forum, but you folks are so "down home," I thought I'd at least start here.

I planted a large EE tuber/bulb in a 3-4 gallon pot in late May. I kept the pot on our brick sidewalk and kept it well watered. Also, we had good weekly rains in July and the first three days in August. I was ready to give up on the EE when finally, in the last week of July, I saw a tiny green tip emerging. Today (August 4) it is about an inch and a half tall.

Are they always this slow? What did I do wrong?

I am in zone 7 south central Virginia, about 30 miles north of the NC state line.

Thanks for any help.

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I mainly grow them in and around a rubber lined pond. They seem to do better in some shade and they start later if it was cold earlier in the year. I am in 7b and I find that they mostly regrow if left in the ground, but I do move my potted plants to the garage for fall and winter.

Perhaps it was too hot sitting on the cement? Perhaps too much sun? I think my garaged plants were growing in May. I had some in ground plants that I assumed were dead, begin to regrow in early July, but none have started as late as yours. I don't suppose that you potted it upside down?

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 2:51PM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

golly, if it was the standard EE those things grow to 7' tall and 5-6' wide if in good ground with dappled shade or at least late PM shade.
I think maybe you planted it in too small a container and might consider planting in the ground next year if you have a spot to fit it. Otherwise you might choose a smaller leafed variety for at least a 10 gal pot and you can underplant around the edges. Use pot feet to raise the planter above the heat of the surface.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 6:53PM
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plays_in_dirt_dirt(Z7A VA bordering NC state line)

Thanks for the responses, chas045 and dottie.

We did have a cool spring with a lot of overcast days. I put the pot on the sidewalk for bottom heat with the intention of moving it to the shade after growth started. The pot is in morning sun until around 11. Now that growth has emerged, I'll put it in dappled shade.

I didn't plant the bulb upside down but probably in too small a pot, as dottie suggested. If I can overwinter it, it will go into the ground next year.

After what chas said, I think it was the weather. I have some cannas that spent winter in the ground and they are late and small, too. They are about 12 - 18 inches tall, and by this time of year, they are usually 3 - 4 feet. I just thought the EEs, being in a pot, would warm up and grow faster.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 10:32AM
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One more thought for your potted EE. It might be more useful next year though. I sometimes put an impatien or two in with my EE potted plant and then take the pot into the house by a window as a fall/winter house plant. The EE goes all winter and the impatiens will grow for a while too.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 12:47PM
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plays_in_dirt_dirt(Z7A VA bordering NC state line)

Thanks, chas. I think I'll try that at season's end if my EE ever grows a leaf! It would look good with the rubber plant and peace lily I have inside. I would substitute wandering jew for the impatiens, though. I have a really healthy WJ growing in the compost pile.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 6:55PM
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How often have you fertilzied it?
Is it the EE that likes well draining soil and no wet feet?
It sounds like it is.
There are tow kinds of EE, the non water type, which is what I think you have, and the water type, which need water to get really big. (I'm talking about sitting in an inch of water all the time).
EE are very heavy feeders.
Start fertilzing it every single week, and put in part shade.
See if it takes off for you.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 10:38PM
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plays_in_dirt_dirt(Z7A VA bordering NC state line)


The first time I fertilized it was after I saw green growth (about a week ago). I used 10-10-10 fertilizer and was careful to keep it from touching the growth. After reading your post, I added a bit more fertilizer, probably 2 tablespoons.

I don't know what kind it is. I bought it in a bag at the Durham Costco. Normally I'm good about keeping plant tags, but have misplaced that one. I don't think I threw it away but I did clean my desk. I could have put it anywhere in a place that would be easy to remember!

I saturated the potting mix before I planted it and then watered it weekly, depending on rainfall. We have had a lot of rainfall over the past month. It never sat in water. I read somewhere not to water heavily until growth emerges. Maybe I didn't water enough before I saw growth?

It is now 4 inches tall, so it is growing, but the leaf doesn't look as if it will very large after it unfurls. I do hope it takes off. I want to see those big, beautiful leaves.

Thanks for your tips. I have followed them and have fingers crossed.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 5:12PM
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While working on my pond today, I saw a fairly new EE plant that only has two perhaps 8" tall leaves. It is in an area where I have planted in ground EEs in the past and may have stuck a side bulb in last fall so I don't know if it was late from real old bulb or late from a recent planting into a cold year. Anyway, it is still small very late in the year. Actually, all of my EEs are shorter than usual.

I believe my EEs came from COSTCO too. Probably Durham and probably seven years ago. Mine certainly like the water but for the last couple of years, I do have one land clump that gets taller, 7-8' tall (only 5' this year).

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 2:50PM
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This is a water EE, it dosn't ahve a "bulb", LOVES the water, as you can see I just keep something under it.
I also have some planted in the ground, they aren't as big as this one.
If you had a "bulb" it is a land EE. It doesn't want to sit in water like this. But it loves water too.
I love EE, they are one of my absolute favorites.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 10:16PM
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B4You, I suspect that you are in error on the bulb=land. I certainly agree that the bulb can tolerate water. However, mine certainly started from one of those big almost croquet ball sized bulbs and potted divisions have sometimes produced similar bulbs, but sometimes have created side divisions that I will not be looking at until perhaps spring and don't recall exactly how they appear.

In any case, I have a potted one that is in water just like yours, except that it is in a shallow section of my pond and is therefore Always in an inch or two of water. I actually checked today and see that this pond plant appears as tall as my large land clump. They are both 5.5' tall. Actually, I guess it should be considered smaller because the land clump is lower since it is actually in ground and not raised by a big pot. On the other hand, I have several other EEs near that rubber lined pond and they are shorter, no matter how you measure.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 1:43PM
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