bulb questions

tunnymowg(z6b Salt Lake)October 22, 2007

I put more than half of my bulbs in yesterday...and of course AFTER I was finished I had newbie questions. But I was anxious to get them in, so I plowed ahead!

When the planting depth is indicated as 6 inches, is that 6" measured from the bottom of the bulb, or from the top of the bulb? I just dug down 6" with my planter (actually 4" since there will be 2" of mulch on top) and plopped the bulbs in - so the bottom of the bulb will end up being 6" down. Did I get that right?

Also - one of the varieties of daffodils I got already had new divisions - most just had one side bulb but one had two! This is a good thing, right? Could I have split off the bulblets and planted them separately? I put them in as-is. And, if I planted them a little closer than suggested (5" apart rather than 6"), will they be too crowded in there since they've already started to divide?

Naturally, I didn't stop to think that they might be too crowded until *after* they were in. I really wished I had taken some time to stop and actually LOOK at these before yesterday...doh! ;)

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david52 Zone 6

You did pretty much what I do when I plant bulbs, I use a 6" long bulb planting trowel, and, more or less, dig a hole that deep, and stick in the bulb.

Re daffodils, they will divide and divide and divide, and at some point, say 5 - 6 years from now, you may wish to dig the big clumps up in the summer as the foliage is dying down, dry them out a bit, divide, and then replant in the fall. I now have some clumps that are about a foot across.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2007 at 12:32PM
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catladysgarden(z5 CO)

That's pretty much how I've always planted them. I put some organic bulb food in the bottom of the hole when I plant. I leave the smaller bulbs attached to the Mama. If the little ones are separated, they tend to produce just foliage until they mature. Daffodils do great here. They increase and persist over the years. Tulips, on the other hand tend to dwindle away. They're beautiful the Spring after they're planted and it's all downhill from there.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2007 at 3:13PM
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david52 Zone 6

I have some 'naturalizing' tulips that need to be lifted and separated just about every year now. I have no idea what the name is, they were cheapies from Walmart 10 years ago.

I have some beds that are full of daffodils in the early spring, then as those go down, poppies, then in the summer ice plant and snap dragons, and then in the fall, the asters show up. I try to throw a 2" layer of compost on about now.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2007 at 5:56PM
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tunnymowg(z6b Salt Lake)

Thanks David and catlady! Sounds like I am okay. I didn't realize it took that many years for them to get crowded.

I planted some striped Greigii tulips, which are supposed to naturalize pretty well, and also a tall single late/Darwin/cottage variety. I had read that the single late group is more hardy than some other types...have to wait and see!

Can daffodils not be replanted in the spring after you divide them?

    Bookmark   October 23, 2007 at 11:29AM
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david52 Zone 6

I last dug up bulbs for division the spring before this one, and I did it when the leaves were still green - say late May. It was a mess, with bulbs losing their skin, me stepping on them, then trying to dig new holes and planting them, and I broke an irrigation pipe with the shovel, and I hit an electrical wire that I shoulda known was there; all in all, the beds looked like a herd of buffalo had spent the winter. This spring, they all came up, both the tulip and daffodils.

In other words, they're a whole lot tougher than they would seem. I think the reason they say to wait a bit is that after the flower and foliage die off, then the bulb gets around to dividing itself a bit better and forming a tougher outer skin. I did it a little early, but they survived and thrived anyway.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2007 at 12:07PM
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tunnymowg(z6b Salt Lake)

Ok thanks. But to clarify - if it's better to wait until early summer to divide them, can they be replanted at the same time? Or is that then too late and you would need to wait until fall?

    Bookmark   October 23, 2007 at 1:33PM
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david52 Zone 6

Theoretically, they say to dig them up in the fall, here call it early September, divide, and replant. But I did it in May, replanting them then, and it worked fine.

The replanted bulbs need some time to get their roots established before the ground freezes, which, at least here, is usually after Thanksgiving, if it freezes at all.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2007 at 1:55PM
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Azura(z5 CO)

Bluestone's half price bulb sale started today. I snatched up some giant allium bulbs.
Does anyone know when Brett & Becky's half price autumn sale starts?

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 6:59PM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

I got an email from Bluestone yesterday too, but I am trying to resist. Today I planted about 3 dozen daffodil bulbs that I bought a few weeks ago at Lowe's, so maybe I won't be too tempted to place an order : )

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 8:22PM
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stevation(z5a Utah)

Tunny, one reason its better to wait till summer to dig up bulbs is that you'll give them plenty of time to pack all the nutrients they can down into the bulb from the foliage as it declines.

Also, daffodils seem more hardy and less sensitive than tulips, but one of the things I'm told that kills tulips is that they don't like being moist through the summer, as they often will be in an irrigated flowerbed. In their native climate, they have drought summers. So that's one reason to dig them up, store them in a cool, dark place, and wait till early fall before putting them back in the ground. I have not done this with my tulips, and I'm seeing gradual losses of them over time.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2007 at 1:27AM
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". . . one of the things I'm told that kills tulips is that they don't like being moist through the summer, as they often will be in an irrigated flowerbed. In their native climate, they have drought summers."

Really, they don't like Summer irrigation!?!

As a guy from a Dutch family, my absolutely only paternal heritage that could possibly, in a convoluted way, appear to have anything to do with flowers, I had thought that tulips must like a maritime flood plain to grow in. But, it seems that I remember that tulips are from Persia. Well, I doubt if much of Iran is a maritime flood plain.

So . . . this might explain why I've been down to Fosteriana tulips (Emperors) for the last few years.


    Bookmark   October 26, 2007 at 10:22AM
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cnetter(z5 Co)

I have quite a few tulips, but the only ones that have actually multiplied well for me are the Greigii and the big red and yellow Appledorn. The others just stay single or fade away over the years.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2007 at 10:26AM
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stevation(z5a Utah)

Hey Digit, I found this info online about tulip origins:

'Commonly the tulip is thought to have originated in Turkey. Actually the plant probably first appeared farther east in the steppes of western and central Asia, primarily in Armenia, Persia and the Caucasus. From these lands, the tulip spread into areas along the Black Sea, throughout the entire Mediterranean area, even into China. As early as 1,000 A.D., the Turks were cultivating tulips.'

The site is linked below. I saw another site saying their native habitat is places with very cold winters and hot, dry summers.

Anyway, one place around here with very extensive tulip gardens is Temple Square in Salt Lake City. They pull their tulips out of the ground every spring and replace the bulbs with new ones every fall. They don't even try to reuse the bulbs. They say they're too unreliable as repeat performers for the amount of color they need for their impressive spring gardens.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tulipmania

    Bookmark   October 26, 2007 at 11:29AM
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Azura(z5 CO)

I'm taking a World History class right now and we just studied the Ottomon Empire's cultural obsession with tulip which dominated the Sultan's court in the 1720's. Mehmed the Conqueror and Suleiman the Lawgiver grew tulips in the courtyards of the Topkapi Palace in Instanbul. According to my history book, the Dutch had developed their fascination with the tulip a century earlier.
I guess they didn't have any problems with voles. Ha ha. :)

    Bookmark   October 26, 2007 at 11:45AM
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tunnymowg(z6b Salt Lake)

I put in some Greigii, single late, and giant Darwin hybrids. I am most anxious about some of the daffodils though - a sweet little double variety called 'Erlicheer.' They are only supposed to be hardy to z6(!) but I was willing to take a chance because they are absolutely stunning. They look like little bouquets of mini-gardenias. I won't get my hopes up though... :)

Steve that is an excellent point about waiting to dig up bulbs for division until the foliage matures. I didn't think about it that way, but I will definitely wait until they are good and yellow before I dig them up and store them in the basement until fall. I did know about tulips not liking water over the summer though. All the perennials and shrubs in the bed will be getting drip irrigation, so my hope is that being on the periphery of everything else, they won't get too much water. And then, whatever ends up coming back and/or multiplying will just have to do...cause I'm much too lazy to replant tulips every fall! ugh =P

    Bookmark   October 26, 2007 at 11:46AM
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stevation(z5a Utah)

You know, Tunnymowg, chances are you're actually a zone 6 or 7 location if you're in Salt Lake Valley. Take a look at the USDA map. The areas that are zone 5 must be high up on the mountainsides and on Traverse Ridge. Much of the area south of the Great Salt Lake is moderated by that body of water and is a zone 7.

Plus, the map was created in 1990 based on the previous two decades (I think) of temperatures, and things have warmed since then. The National Arbor Day Foundation has a sort of tentative map showing new zones and they've expanded the zone 7 area quite a bit.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2007 at 12:00PM
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tunnymowg(z6b Salt Lake)

Yeah Steve, that's what I've kind of had in the back of my mind, hoping that the relatively recent warming has bumped me into zone 6. And from looking at the ADF map, it certainly does seem that I should be in 6 now - don't know about 7. We're at 17th east and almost 33rd south - not on the floor of the valley but not as high as the bench or Mt. Olympus neighborhoods either.

And yet every gardening/plant site I've come across that offers to "find your zone" (based on zip code) puts me in z5. One day there will be have to be an official massive rezoning of everyone!

    Bookmark   October 26, 2007 at 12:39PM
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stevation(z5a Utah)

I used to work out in Holladay (on Highland Drive by 45th South), and that zip code is 84124, which comes up as zone 6 on the zone finder at the High Country Gardens website. Anyway, I'm pretty sure you're a six.

Also, think about your coldest winter temps. I live in NE Utah County kind of up high, but it definitely doesn't reach zone 5 kind of cold temps. My coldest temp in the whole six years I've lived here was -7° last January. And that is right in the zone 6 range. Zone 5 would have lows between -10° and -20°. I was starting to think maybe we were a zone 7 (with lows not reaching below zero) but then last winter proved that wrong.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2007 at 4:23PM
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