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What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

Posted by steve22802 7a VA (My Page) on
Wed, Jan 21, 09 at 13:03

This will be my first season selling cut flowers at my local farmers market and I'm looking at ordering some new summer blooming bulbs for cutting. I have some nice lilies, callas, and liatris already established so I was thinking of ordering some dahlias, crocosmia, ornithogalum and sparaxis to fill out my bulb collection a little better.

Does anyone have other suggestions for summer bulbs or comments regarding the four mentioned above as cut flowers? (I think dahlias have already been discussed pretty good in the archives, no need to repeat.)

Thanks,
Steve


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

Steve,
Don't forget about alliums...I love Purple Sensation (same impact as the big ones and lots cheaper!), and the drumstick alliums, and will be planting the blue ones this spring too.

I also love to have glads, they add a nice "height" element and often, customers buy bunches of 7-10 - if I have extra that day.

Good luck!
Wendy


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RE: What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

Thanks,for the reminder Wendy!

I do actually have Purple Sensation alliums in my perennial beds (somewhere!) I'm sure they will come popping up again. I also have some Allium 'Star of Persia' my mom shared with me. Hers seem to be self sowing in one of her perennial beds and are becoming almost weedy! I saved some seeds last year and am going to try to grow lots more from seed. I also saved seed from an Ornithogolum I have but a little research showed me that it typically takes 4 years to bloom from seed! :( Guess I better get started growing them along this year! Why didn't I start them 5 years ago when I started my callas from seed...? ;(

I've learned that a lot of bulbs can be raised very inexpensively from seed but it takes a LONG time, often 3 or 4 years before the tiny bulbs turn into little bulbs which turn into medium size bulbs which finally have one small bloom and then the next year are finally a nice size.

- Steve


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RE: What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

Comments? We always have comments. And, sometimes we comment on our own comments here on this forum. Those of us who are of Irish descent never consider a subject matter dead. Just when you think it is, we will dig it up and rehash it. Life is too short to be taken too seriously.

I must say you have a lot of patience. Growing Callas and Allium from seed.

.....so I was thinking of ordering some dahlias, crocosmia, ornithogalum and sparaxis to fill out my bulb collection a little better. Does anyone have other suggestions for summer bulbs or comments regarding the four mentioned above as cut flowers? (I think dahlias have already been discussed pretty good in the archives, no need to repeat.)

Comments: Did you know that Dahlia is capitalized in polite company? And, yes, definately grow crocosmia. These multiply fairly rapidly, and will have to be divided. Which is a plus for the market gardener. You can sell these as plants as well as cut flowers. Ornithogalum (Star of Bethlehem) some varieties grow taller than others. There is a new salmon color which I'd like to think will be popular this season. Sparaxis we have not grown. It, however, looks very pretty.

Suggestions: Acidanthera, miniature gladioli, and tuberose. One tuberose per bouquet because the scent is strong. Market customers always wonder what is the sweet smelling scent. It's hard to describe. The tuberose here on our farm are all planted at one time. The acidanthera and miniature gladioli can be succession planted to prolong the blooming season.


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RE: What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

Here's a picture of my Calla patch from last summer. The plants to the left are the oldest and are finally starting to bloom well after 4 years growing along from seed. The plants toward the right are mostly 2 years old. There was suppose to be a generation in between but that generation froze when I left them planted too shallow over winter. :(

Callas started from seeds

Here in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia it's possible to leave callas in the ground IF you bury them fairly deep (8+ inches.) I discovered the hard way that the babies won't survive near the surface where they are 'born' from seed so I have to dig and store them in the basement for the first two years or so until they are large enough to really sink deep in the ground.

I don't think the Allium christophii will take so long. They are in the same family as onions so I think their cycle should be similar. I should be able to sow the Star of Persia from seed early this spring and have them grow into medium sized bulbs in one season. I expect that they would at least have small blooms by the 2nd year like onions do. Some of my mom's Star of Persia bulbs must be huge by now because they have enormous volley ball sized blossoms! :) I'll have to remember to take picture of her patch when it's in full bloom next year.

- Steve

Here is a link that might be useful: Example of Star of Persia


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RE: What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

"...Did you know that Dahlia is capitalized in polite company?..."

LOL! Thanks for the smile, Trish!

:)
Dee


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RE: What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

Hi,
Allium have been suggested as examples of summer bulbs. I've grown the drumstick allium and discovered that although they last a long time in the bouquets, they do smell like fresh green onions. Is there a special treatment to rid them of their onion smell?


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RE: What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

I have considered adding some agapanthus to my selection. Such a beautiful shade of blue. Just one as a focal point in a bouquet would probably do it.

Teresa


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RE: What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

Teresa_b, Agapanthus are beautiful and I love blue too, but unfortunately they are not very hardy so you couldn't leave them in the ground over winter. I could maybe get them to survive here in Virginia though with a good thick mulch.

- Steve


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RE: What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

Agapanthus is a tender perennial. It is widely grown on the West Coast (zones 9 and 10). It is not hardy elsewhere. That does not discourage some of us specialty flower growers from growing it and treating it as an annual. Yes, it is the most beautiful shade of blue.

It is unfortunate there isn't a blue Dahlia. Maybe we will be the ones to hybridize one of these. In which case, "We're Gonna Be Rice!" We can always dream.

Trish


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RE: What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

I was surprised recently to see that one agapanthus was listed as zone 6 so it may work in some areas of Virginia.

See (http://www.monrovia.com/learn/plant_catalog/detail.php?id=727)

I agree, Trish, for those of us in colder areas, it would be more like a dahlia, and have to be dug up each Autumn.

I really struggle with liking dahlias; to me, they look artificial and have no fragrance. Agapanthus give a nice blue color and can be fragrant. And, it may be worthwhile for me to try this new variety which is supposedly hardy to zone 6, which is my zone.

Teresa


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RE: What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

It does look like some varieties of Agapahtus should be hardy in Virginia. But at $5 per bulb (one stem) I'm not sure it would be a very good business decision. Unless they would multiply rapidly...


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RE: What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

So, I wrote: It is unfortunate there isn't a blue Dahlia. Maybe we will be the ones to hybridize one of these. In which case, "We're Gonna Be Rice!" Rice? Seriously? I need an editor. Regardless. "We're Gonna Be Rich!!"

I really struggle with liking dahlias; to me, they look artificial and have no fragrance. We've done a lot of research on the Dahlia. Actually, there are Dahlias that have a fragrance. As to appearance, Dahlias may not grab your attention. To be perfectly honest, we weren't all that enthralled with them initially. But, if you have ever seen a field of Dahlias, you will be addicted forever.

Trish


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RE: What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

Steve and all...I forgot about Eremurus! I love them and usually look for the late spring sales and then scramble to find a place to plant them!!! They are spendy compared to other bulbs, but you can also sell them at at least $3/stem and they are perennial and do multiply. I want to get some of the white Himalaya ones eventually when my budget allows!
I want to grow callas now too, but don't want to have to dig more up in the fall than our dahlias.......

Wendy


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RE: What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

I've only seen pictures of Eremurus in the glorious book Flowers A to Z by Cecelia Heffernan. The book says they last 10 to 14 days or longer then later on it says with proper care eremuri can last as long as three weeks. Vase life doesn't get much better than that! (Except maybe callas.) Hey, imagine a vase full of Eremuri AND Callas! :) I just might have to plant some of these next fall.

Fortunately, I can leave my white callas (Zantedeschia albomaculata) in the ground here if I bury then nice and deep. I'd love to expand my collection to include some colored callas but they're all listed as being one zone less hardy. :( Interestingly I just noticed that both Zantedeschia aethiopica 'Green Goddess' and the straight white Zantedeschia aethiopica are listed in Brent and Beckys catalog as hardy to zone 6! What do you think of THAT Trish!? Maybe you COULD leave Z. aethiopica in the ground with a heavy mulch. Perhaps just toss a nice thick layer of straw bales over their bed and sheet plastic over that to keep the straw dry and insulating. Why don't you plant one 8-10 inches deep this season and then leave it over winter with a heavy mulch as an experiment? Come on, just one won't hurt... ;)


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RE: What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

By the way, back to the Agapanthus. As I was going through some bulb label cards I saved from years past I came across one for Triteleia laxa 'Queen Fabiola' (aka Ithuriel's Spear) which looks rather a lot like Agapanthus but is listed (by Brent and Becky's) as hardy in zones 5-9. I believe I still have some of these around somewhere buried away in a perennial bed. I will have to keep an eye out for them this season and then move them into a cutting bed and give them more preferential treatment in the fall.

Triteleia is mentioned as a good cut flower on the bulb package label and on the web, but no precise estimates of vase life... No wait, wait, WAIT! :) I just found a VERY interesting blog post regarding Triteleia! Suzy Bales says: "Not all of the dozen or more starry blossoms open at once. The buds continue to open for three weeks. Cut when the first buds open, a stem lasts in water for a week and sometimes two." Sounds good to me! :)

I originally bought the bulbs to add to my perennial beds and I never thought to try cutting them so I don't have any personal experience regarding their vase life. But now after reading Suzy's post I really want to seek them out and give them a better home. ;)

Here is a link that might be useful: Triteleia Lax images


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RE: What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

Steve,

I agree that Triteleia laxa looks like a great fill-in for agapanthus. I have never heard of it but I like its looks. Have you also considered Asiatic or Oriental lilies? I planted some last Fall after seeing so many posts from people that seem to rely upon them.

Trish, You are right, I have never seen a field of Dahlias blooming. I guess I will have to break down and try a few. I will do some research and hope to find some that are scented and colors that will work with what I have planned. On another note, thanks for the tip on crocosmia. Is there any particular variety you prefer?

Teresa


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RE: What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

Steve, one bulb that produces flower stalks that can last for up to 3-4 weeks or so are the eucomis. The bulbs can be pricey but they can be grown from seed and since you were patient enough to grow callas from seed, you might want to consider them. There are tons of varieties out there, some of which are hardy for me in zone 7a NC and some of which are not. I am providing a link to Seneca Hills Perennials which sells quite a few types. I have four more varieties that I don't have pictures of the blooms of since they were purchased last year and are just settling in--some of the varieties included Can Can, Toffee, and two others whose names escape me right now.

Sparkling Burgundy Eucomis-the foliage starts out a dark burgundy color in the spring and then bleaches out in the heat of summer to mostly green.


Mix of Sparkling Burgundy and Autumnlis

Here is a link that might be useful: Seneca Hills Eucomis


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RE: eucomis

Don't know why I forgot but meant to add that these plants are easy to propagate from leaf cuttings. Tony Avent at Plant Delights Nursery gave a workshop a couple of years back where he demonstrated how to propagate them this way. I don't have anything to offer except a link that shows essentially what he taught. I personally think these plants are grossly underutilized as a cut flower.

Here is a link that might be useful: Propagation of Eucomis by leaf cuttings.


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RE: What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

Hey nckvilledudes, that Eucomis does look like something I'd like to try. Maybe I'll buy one bulb of a couple different varieties and then proceed on the long slow task of propagating them from leaf cuttings. I searched a bit through the GW Trades lists and it looks like a few people do have seeds to trade, but they typically offer just 10 seeds. To make enough plants for a cutting bed I need either a lot more seeds or else several leaves. Maybe I could find a gardener who lives near me who would let me cut several leaves to propagate from in return for some plant trades... :)


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RE: What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

If you ever happen to be passing through North Carolina near the Winston-Salem area in the summer, I could supply you some leaves for cuttings. I only collected a few seeds this past year and have winter sowed them. I have more things growing from seed than I have room for so if the eucomis seeds do germinate, I might be willing to send them on to you this fall.


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RE: What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

Oooooo..... I want some. Please. Can you ship these? Nckvilledudes, I enjoy the fact that you jump around on these forums. Glad to see you. Kat


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RE: What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

Hey Kitkat. My passion is clematis but I do have other plants in the garden that I tend to obsess about too! LOL

No seeds available now. I did wintersow the few that I got this past year. This was the second year of a drought here in NC so things just survived and set very few seeds even with the watering that I did do!


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RE: What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

Fortunately, I can leave my white callas (Zantedeschia albomaculata) in the ground here if I bury then nice and deep. I'd love to expand my collection to include some colored callas but they're all listed as being one zone less hardy. :( Interestingly I just noticed that both Zantedeschia aethiopica 'Green Goddess' and the straight white Zantedeschia aethiopica are listed in Brent and Beckys catalog as hardy to zone 6! What do you think of THAT Trish!? Maybe you COULD leave Z. aethiopica in the ground with a heavy mulch. Perhaps just toss a nice thick layer of straw bales over their bed and sheet plastic over that to keep the straw dry and insulating. Why don't you plant one 8-10 inches deep this season and then leave it over winter with a heavy mulch as an experiment? Come on, just one won't hurt... ;)

One? Seriously? I'm thinking they would be as hardy in the field as acidanthera. These were planted 8-10 inches deep as well. Our frost line is 12" deep. (This is why all our irrigation line is buried below that line.) We didn't mulch the acidanthera and we didn't get them dug either because sometimes life on a flower farm takes one in many different directions. They were mush in the spring. In the fall, we are digging dahlias tubers which always take priority. Often this happens in November in the snow.

So, I'm thinking Zantedeschia aethiopica should be planted in a high tunnel where we most likely would be more apt to mulch. Looks like these are planted in the fall. I'd certainly trial more than one because we throw caution to the wind when it comes to growing cut flowers.


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RE: What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

>> I'm thinking they would be as hardy in
>> the field as acidanthera.

I haven't had much experience with acidanthera, I only planted it once in a perennial bed. Mine froze out and I wasn't that impressed with it as part of my perennial garden anyway. But I believe that Zantedeschia albo maculata and Zantedeschia aethiopica are both substantially hardier than acidanthera. In the catalogs acidanthera is rated as hardy to zone 8 while albo maculata is rated at 7 and aethiopica at 6. Unfortunately most of the colored varieties of callas (especially the miniatures) are not very hardy and are best suite to zone 8 or warmer.

>> So, I'm thinking Zantedeschia aethiopica should
>> be planted in a high tunnel where we most likely
>> would be more apt to mulch.

Yes, in your climate high tunnels would definitely make callas much more likely to be happy in the ground over winter. Do you happen to know what your frost depth is inside an unheated high tunnel? If not, why don't you go out there right now (dead of winter) and hack through an undisturbed bed with a pick axe and see where you hit soft soil again. If you only have frost to around 6 inches inside the high tunnels at this time of year you should be pretty safe planting Z. aethiopica, albo maculata and 'Green Goddess' all permanently at 8 inches.

>> Looks like these are planted in the fall.

No, these are definitely planted in the spring in cold climates. Many people in borderline or cold climates dig them every fall and store them dormant in the basement in peat moss or sawdust until spring. I have about 250 bulbs packed in sawdust right now that were too small to bury below the frost line (only 6" frost line for me.) Since I've been raising Z. albo maculata from seed, I have quite a few tiny (non blooming bulbs) that are not yet large enough to bury below the frost line. After about 3 years (starting from a seed) they finally reach a large enough bulb size to bury at 8 inches and leave permanently. Also, in a case like yours where survival may be questionable, you will get at least once good blooming season out of them by planting in the spring. :)

One interesting note regarding planting depth of callas is that they can be planted much deeper than is typically recommended on the packaging. My orginal 4-5 bulbs were given to me by a local gardening friend who had a few extra to share. I watched as she dug them and She kept digging and digging going deeper and deeper. When she finally got down to the bulbs they must have been at least 12-14 inches deep. I didn't think to measure the depth, though I wish now that I had. They were still growing quite well and blooming for her from this depth. The main problems I would see with planting them extra deep would be a later bloom date and possibly somewhat shorter flower stems.

Below is a picture of my oldest calla planting. The bulb is at an 8" depth in a permanent perennial bed. As you can see the stem length is certainly still plenty long. Last year this bulb produced 8 stems and I expect more this season.

Zantedeschia albo maculata


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RE: What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

A pick ax? Seriously? Actually, I don't think I need one for the soil in the hightunnels. We'll be out there soon tilling the beds and getting them ready for the lisianthus and Karma dahlias. BTW -- In the dead of winter someone shovels paths to the hightunnels. We have to keep the snow load off. These structures in our climate are like children. They need to be babysat all the time. When you least expect it, one will collapse from the weight of snow. This has happened even though these structures are built for our climate. Well, maybe not the one that collapsed. But, we learned from our experience. Good that we did because when we don't, we get to repeat the lesson all over again. In our climate, the hightunnels cannot have three purlins running the length of the structure. Only one, and the snow is supposed to fall off on its own. The emphasis being on supposed to if you put the structure up correctly in the first place. Another lesson.

Anyway, back to Zantedeschia aethiopica. I am thinking planted directly in beds in the hightunnel. And, they will probably get taller than if planted in the field. Thinking the catalog suggested planting in the fall because it's geared toward growing year round in a hightunnel. That would be the reasoning for planting them in the fall. They'd get a jump start on growing earlier in the season.

As far as the Dutch grown color callas, we would highly recommend growing these in bulb crates. Shipment begins this week on these callas.

FWIW We do leave the miniature gladioli in the field. And, as you mentioned, Steve, we do plant these deep.


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RE: What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

>> Actually, I don't think I need one for the
>> soil in the hightunnels.

Are you saying you have little to no frost penetration in the high tunnels? That's awesome! If that's the case then you should have no trouble overwintering the hardier callas in the ground at an 8" depth. I wish I had a high tunnel too... :)

Our weather here in the Shenandoah Valley made a huge about face today. This morning it was sunny and hit a high of 59 degrees so I was out in the garden spading my future carrot bed. Then it clouded over and the temperature dropped. Right now it's 33 degrees and there is 3 inches of snow covering everything! Now I really, REALLY want a high tunnel... ;(


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Placed a bulb order

After much research, I've now placed an order for a selection of new spring planted bulbs to try out as cut flowers. Here's the list:

Ranunculus (a range of colors ordered individually)
Eucomis autumnalis and comosa
Gloriosa Rothschildiana
Ornithogalum thyrsoides
Ismene exotica

I realize that some of these are pushing my zone but I'm willing to either dig and store them overwinter or else give them extra protection. The Eucomis and Ornithogalum should be OK. I expect the Ranuculus will be borderline and need at least extra heavy mulching or better yet, high tunnel protection. Maybe I'll dig half of them and leave half with extra protection. I expect to dig and store the Ismene and Gloriosas. I'd still like to get some Crocosmia, Dahlias and some more lilies, but I'll get those from another source. I'm not ordering huge quantities of anything, just trying to increase my variety of plants so I can see what grows, cuts and sells well for me.


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RE: What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

Gloriosa Rothschildiana Coincidentally, I just saw this listed as the Cut Flower of the Month in a retailing magazine. Very unique looking. The cut flowers have a vase life of up to two weeks.

Here's some important information: Warn customers to use caution with these flowers around children and pets. All parts of Gloriosas, particularly the tubers (thickened roots), which resemble yams, are toxic if ingested. The plants contain the poisonous alkaloid colchicine.


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RE: What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

I grew Gloriosa Rothschildiana one year as a novelty and while I was impressed with the blooms, I was not overly impressed with their life uncut on the vine. Never tried to cut them so I am not sure how long they will last as a cut flower.

They definitely were not winter hardy in my garden.


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RE: What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

I am thinking Gloriosa Rothschildiana are good candidates for growing in bulb crates in a high tunnel with support netting. They would definitely be protected from the elements. And, the color wouldn't fade with the use of the higher quality greenhouse plastic which blocks out harmful UV rays while letting in beneficial light.

Personally, high-end market customers would love this unique flower.


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RE: What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

There's a page in the Floral Design Institute Flower Library about Gloriosa Rothschildiana It says the vase life is 4-5 days, which isn't so great but still it would have a strong impact while it was open. I can see how it could be particularly useful in a floral arrangement for a major event (i.e. wedding, party, etc.) where a big one time impact is most important.

The page also mentions that they only have a 6 to 8 inch stem which is also not ideal but they mention that sometimes part of the vine is cut with several blossoms which yields a longer stem. Maybe the thing to do would be to wait until the vine reaches about 12 inches and then pinch the tip to force it to fork. Perhaps this would yield several short vines that could be harvested whole.


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RE: What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

What seems to be the problem? The plants can grow up to 5 or 6 feet, and the blooms average 2 to 3 inches in diameter. Gloriosa superba 'Rothschildiana' will last up to two weeks as cut flowers if they receive proper care throughout the growing period, harvested into hydrating solution, and the market customer is given care instructions when they purchase your product.

Gloriosa superba 'Rothschildiana'


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RE: What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

>> Gloriosa superba 'Rothschildiana' will last
>> up to two weeks as cut flowers

Well that's a much better vase life than the Floral Design Institute Flower Library lists. It would certainly be nice if I can get them to last that long. Did you find the two week estimate documented somewhere or is that from personal experience? Perhaps the 4-5 day figure is based on simply cutting it into water without proper conditioning.


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RE: What are your favorite summer bulbs for cutting?

Steve

I can send you tons of orange crocosmia bulbs (blooming size) and even agapanthus seeds for that matter. I have blue and white. (If you want to pay for shipping.) They are like weeds in my yard and I could never sell them here because everyone has them.
email me clever_puppet@hotmail.com

andrea


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