Archives

Potted Bulb Garden and Cutting Back Perennials


“It would be fun to have specific directions as to how to build a potted bulb garden.    I think it has to sit in the refrigerator (40 degree area) for 12 weeks.

Also you could write about the proper time to cut down perennials.  I’ve heard the new thinking is let them stand until spring (to feed our winter friends) and then chop them down inch by inch to create mulch.

Denise”

___________________________________________________________________

Hi Denise,

Thank you for the email regarding your bulbs and perennials.

Forcing Bulbs

Bulbs made to flower at other than normal times are said to be forced. The practice of forcing is commonly used to flower daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, crocus and other spring bulbs during the winter. With proper planning and care, bulbs can supply color for the home from late November until early April, when they begin to flower normally outdoors.

Steps for forcing include selecting the most suitable varieties, potting bulbs properly in well-drained potting medium, providing proper
cold-temperature treatment, bringing bulbs into a cool room, and placing the plants in a display location when well-developed.

Stage 1:  Preparation
Any spring-flowering bulb can be forced, but to be successful, select types and varieties known to be good forcers. Hyacinths and daffodils are generally the easiest to force. Tulips are slightly more difficult, but with proper treatments they can be forced successfully. Many small bulbs such as crocus, grape hyacinth and snowdrops also may be forced.

The general procedure for forcing all these bulbs is similar. Begin by buying only top-quality, flowering-size bulbs for indoor forcing. Good bulbs contain ingredients necessary for successfully producing roots, leaves and flowers.

Hyacinths are usually the most easily forced spring bulbs. They may be forced in water or potted in a container. Potting should be done in late September or early October. Plants will flower about one month after being brought indoors from the chilling treatment. Earliest bloom from bulbs can be expected about mid-January.

Many varieties of daffodils can be forced. Paperwhite Narcissus are suitable for earliest forcing either in pots or in water.

All varieties should be potted before the end of October for adequate root growth and chilling. Dates listed in the table are the earliest that bulbs planted in October should be brought into forcing conditions. Most varieties flower about one month after being brought indoors, although timing varies due to varieties and individual forcing conditions.

Hyacinth varieties for forcing:
Variety        Color        Pot no later than    Earliest date to bring indoors
Anne Marie        bright pink    Oct. 1            late December
Delft Blue        porcelain blue    Oct. 1        late December
Jan Bos        red        Oct. 1            late December
L’Innocence        white        Oct. 1            late December
Carnegie        white        Oct. 1            early January
Myosotis        pale blue    Oct. 1            early January
Ostara            dark blue    Oct. 1            early January
Pink Pearl        pink        Oct. 1            early January
City of Harlem    yellow        Oct. 15        mid-February
King of the Blues    deep blue    Oct. 15        mid-February
Lady Derby        rose pink    Oct. 15        late January
Orange Boven        orange-salmon    Oct. 15    late January

Daffodil (Narcissus) varieties for forcing.
Variety        Color                Forcing dates
Accent            white; salmon cup        March to April
Barrett Browning    white; orange cup        January to April
Bridal Crown        golden yellow        March to April
Carlton        double white; orange center    January to February
Cassata        creamy to pale yellow    January to April
Dutch Master        golden yellow        January to April
February Gold    bright yellow        January to February
Flower Record    white; orange-rimmed cup    January to February
Fortune        yellow; coppery-orange cup    January to April
Ice Follies        white; yellow cup        January to April
Las Vegas        white; lemon yellow cup    January to April
Mt. Hood        ivory white            January to April
Tete a Tete        yellow miniature        January to February
Unsurpassable    yellow                March to April

Tulip varieties for forcing.
Variety        Color                Earliest date to bring indoors
Apeldoorn        orange-scarlet        early February
Apricot Beauty    salmon-rose            early January
Attilla        purple violet        mid-January
Bellona        golden yellow        early January
Blizzaard        creamy white            early February
Christmas Gold    deep yellow            early January
Christmas Marvel    cherry pink            early January
Couleur Cardinal    cardinal red            early February
DeWet (General)    orange                early January
First Lady        reddish-violet        early January
Garden Party        white-edged red        early February
Gudoshnik        pale yellow streaked; rose pink    early February
Jewel of Spring    yellow-streaked red        early February
Kansas            white                early January
Make Up        white with red edge        early February
Merry Widow        red with white edge        mid-January
Olympic Flame    yellow-flamed red        early February
Orange Nassau    double-orange scarlet    mid-January
Orange Wonder    bronzy-orange        mid-January
Paul Richter        scarlet red            early January
Peach Blossom    double deep rose        early February
Preludlum        salmon with white base    early January
Queen of Sheba    mahogany-edged orange    early February
Westpoint        yellow                early February

Stage 2:  Potting

The following materials will be needed for potting bulbs:
–Pots 4 to 8 inches in diameter. Short pots known as azalea or bulb pots are preferred.
–A well-drained potting medium such as a blend of Sphagnum peat, vermiculite and perlite. High fertility is not essential, but good drainage is important. No fertilizer is needed at potting time.
–Wood, plastic or metal labels.
–Thermometer for checking temperatures.

Procedure
All bulbs are normally potted in October.

*Add enough soil mixture to fill the pot so bulbs are placed as follows:
–Hyacinths and tulips: Allow only the tip of the bulb to show above the soil line.
–Daffodils: Plant so about one-half of the bulb shows above the soil line.
–Small bulbs (crocus, snowdrop, grape hyacinth, etc.): Plant so they will be about one inch below the soil line.

*Set the bulbs in the pot. One large bulb may be placed in each 4-inch pot.  Use six tulips, three hyacinths, five daffodils or 15 crocus (or other small bulb) in each 6-inch pot. All bulbs in a pot should be of the same kind and variety to ensure uniform flowering. Place tulips with the flattened side of the bulb toward the outside of the pot.

*Fill around the bulbs with potting medium to the proper height. Firm the medium with light pressure, but avoid tight packing. After planting, the final potting medium line should be about 1/4 to 1/2 inch below the rim of the pot.

*Label each pot with variety of bulb, date of potting and expected date to begin forcing.

*Add water until it drips through the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot. After about one hour, dump out any water remaining in the saucer.

Stage 3:  Rooting
After potting, keep hardy bulbs where temperatures range between 35 and 48 degrees F; 40 degrees F is ideal. These temperatures may be found in a cool north room, basement, crawl space, bulb cellar, outdoor trench, refrigerator or cold frame.

An unheated basement or storage cellar is most convenient because temperatures don’t fluctuate greatly and the cooling is quicker and more satisfactory. An old refrigerator may be used for a few bulbs.

A cold frame is easily built outdoors and may later be used for other gardening activities. Place the pots to be forced in the cold frame and cover them with sawdust, straw, leaves, peat moss, shredded styrofoam or other material. The cold frame should be in a shady place or on the north side of a building so the soil is as uniformly cool as possible in October and November. No sash is needed on the cold frame.

When preparing only a few pots, place them on the surface of the ground close to a building. Cover them with peat moss, leaves, straw or similar material and invert a box or bushel basket over them for protection.

Bulbs stored outdoors will normally get sufficient moisture from the soil around them after initial watering. Indoors, bulbs should be kept moist at all times. Overwatering, however, may cause bulb rot.

Roots should develop soon after potting. Excellent root growth is essential to good growth and flower formation. Potted bulbs should be placed outdoors at least three weeks before the first hard freeze is expected. This is an important period for good root development.

Stage 4:  Top-growth

A few varieties may be brought indoors after about 12 weeks of cooling, but most will require 13 or 14 weeks to develop the necessary roots and top growth. Indoor forcing takes three to four weeks. To extend the bloom period, remove potted bulbs from storage at weekly intervals.

If potting medium and tops are frozen when plants are brought indoors, place plants in a cool room (about 40 degrees F) for two or three days to thaw out slowly. Don’t touch the plant tops when they are frozen.

If plants are not frozen, bring them directly to a cool, bright window where temperatures range close to 60 degrees F. Don’t place them in direct sunlight. Keep bulbs watered, but fertilizer won’t be needed.

Stage 5:  Bloom

When flower buds are almost fully developed, pots may be moved to the area in the house where they are to be displayed. Avoid placing them in full sunlight or close to a heater. The life of the flowers can be lengthened by placing the plants in a cool room at night.

Bulbs that have been forced indoors are usually of little value for outdoor planting afterwards and should be discarded.

Forcing bulbs in water

Tender types of Narcissus such as Paperwhite and Soleil d’Or don’t require cold treatment before being forced into bloom. These are the most popular and dependable bulbs for forcing and may be grown in water with pebbles for support.

Hyacinths can be forced into bloom in containers that will support the bulb with only its base touching the water. Bulbs should be cleaned before placing them in glasses. The best time for starting the bulbs is in October.

Keep the glasses containing the bulbs in a cool (45 to 50 degrees F), dark location until tip growth is 3 to 4 inches long and the flower cluster emerges free from the bulb. This may take 8 to 12 weeks. When the top growth is well-developed, move the glasses to a cool, bright window.

As for your perennials, you can chop them down if they herbaceous (not recommended for roses or other woody perennials that come back on the same stems/foliage).  However, the only thing to keep in mind is to wait until the foliage had died back.  If the stems or leaves are still green, the foliage is still feeding the plant and preparing it for winter.

I hope this information helps you out.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

*************************************************************************

© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Growing a Bountiful Harvest on a Patio


Reprinted with permission of the National Garden Bureau:

 

Growing a Bountiful Harvest on a Patio

At National Garden Bureau, we like to encourage those who think they have a brown thumb to attempt gardening, even if on a small scale. And what better way to start than with produce grown in easy-to-manage containers on your own patio! 

Container growing offers many benefits, not the least of which is that you can put a ‘garden’ just about anywhere. Balconies on a highrise building can become urban gardens and a backyard deck or patio becomes a produce garden at your fingertips. The top vegetable breeders that are members of National Garden Bureau are encouraging this trend by breeding smaller, more compact varieties that still are prolific producers.

Without a doubt, container gardens will require less weeding than their in-ground counterparts. This makes them ideal for busy people who love gardening and fresh food but have limited time. However, watering container gardens has to be monitored more closely. Smaller gardens in hot sun can dry out quickly and even a gentle summer breeze will wick moisture from plants. Be prepared to water daily or even twice daily during long, hot, dry spells.

As for supplies, the shopping list is small:

* Appropriately sized container (bigger is usually better)
* Good quality growing medium
* Young plants or seeds
* Your desired choice of fertilizer or plant food
* Stakes or cages if growing tall or vining edibles

After that, with a little sun, a little water and a little patience, you’ll soon have fresh delicious vegetables and herbs, even fruit, at your back door (or front door!). We always feel a little like Martha Stewart when we can step out the back door, snip a few herbs, grab a handful of tomatoes and a pepper or two then go back inside to continue with our meal preparation.

Helpful tips from NGB and our members:

Tips on selecting the right container can be found here from National Garden Bureau.

Johnny’s Seeds has a blog post about mixing vegetables herbs and flowers all in the same container for a very trendy look.

Burpee has this assortment of vegetables selected explicitly for containers. They also offer these tips on which herbs and vegetables grow well together.

A large selection of suitable containers can be found here from Gardener’s Supply as well as a helpful selection of self-watering containers for vegetables.

American Meadows offers a hanging garden, perfect for lettuce or strawberries, to utilize wall space.

Botanical Interests offers some tips for growing vegetables in shady areas as well as a container vegetable seed collection.

For more reading, here are some great books on growing vegetables from St. Lynn’s Press:
No Nonsense Vegetable Gardening by Donna Balzer and Steven Biggs
Plants with Benefits by Helen Yoest
The 20-30 Something Garden Guide by Dee Nash
Tomatoes Garlic Basil by Doug Oster

For more on growing container edibles, click here for the “Veggies in Containers” article from NGB.

For proven performers, check our these AAS Winners perfect for growing in containers:
Basil Dolce Fresca
Bean Mascotte
Cucumber Parisian Gherkin
Cucumber Pick a Bushel
Eggplant Patio Baby
Pepper Pretty N Sweet
Squash Butterscotch
Tomato Terenzo

Happy Gardening, Cooking, and Eating!

Growing Jalapenos Indoors


“I’m wanting to grow my own jalapenos. I was curious about indoor growing in a large pot. Would jalapeno plants thrive as an indoor plant, assuming a good, sunny window?

Michael”

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Hi Michael,

Thank you for your email regarding growing jalapenos indoors.  To be honest, given the conditions that you are planning to grow them under (in a sunny window), I would not recommend it.

First of all, I don’t want to say that it won’t work.  It’s just that you will have some problems in terms of light and you will probably not have a great crop of peppers.  The reason why I am hesitant to recommend this method is because of the composition of window glass that is found in most homes.  Glass that is found in greenhouses is very basic and allows for all solar rays other than UV to go through.  However, windows used for homes have glass that is a little bit more high tech and blocks more than just UV rays.  Because these other types of rays are blocked, the plants in your
home sitting by the window do not get a full spectrum of light.  For some, like a pathos or a philodendron, that is fine because they are used to filtered light in their native outdoor environments.  But for peppers, that’s not good because they are accustomed to having full, direct sunshine.

Jalapeno
What you would see happen is that your stems would become elongated between the nodes where the leaves and branches come out.  Also, the color would be lighter than normal.  Not having the optimal conditions would eventually reduce the amount of buds set and/or the amount of fruits set.

I admit, I have brought bell and habanero type peppers into my home that were grown outside before frost and were brought in to finish things up. They did okay, but only because it was for a couple of weeks.

I don’t want to discourage you from growing peppers inside, but I want to make sure that you are aware of what they need so that you are not disappointed.  What I would recommend doing is growing them under a grow lamp.  Unlike the rays allowed through the window into your home, a grow lamp will provide the full spectrum of light that will be needed for the plants to have normal growth rates.  It can be the same type that you use to start seedlings in spring, but just make sure that there is enough room under it to allow the jalapeno plants to grow to their full height.  Keep
the grow lights about 1-3 inches above the tops of the plants as they grow so the light is not too diffuse.  You can leave the lights on for 18 hours a day.

I hope this information helps you out.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

 

*************************************************************************

© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Bull’s Eye: Container Rose?


“Is Bull’s Eye Rose suitable for a large container?

~Jill Rising”

________________________________________________________________

Hi Jill,

Thank you for the question regarding the Bull’s Eye Rose.  As I stated in a previous article earlier in 2014, while it is possible to grow a shrub-type rose in a pot, it is not ideal. Given that this is the second time I have been asked the same question, I am wondering if it is being sold as such by a vendor. If so, I am curious to know who!

The rule of thumb with shrub roses is that if you look at the area taken by the stems and leaves, imagine turning that upside down and putting it in the ground. That is a representation of what the network of main roots and hair roots look like below the ground.

Bull's Eye RoseI don’t want to say that it is impossible, but if it were me and my garden, I would not do it. Other roses like miniature or tea roses work much better in a large pot because they don’t have a well-developed root system.  That’s not to say that they are weaker or anything due to their roots, but more with that they are more developed and hybridized for the potential of being grown in a pot. Shrub roses are more closely related to the old-fashioned roses that grow out in the wilds with unlimited room to grow — both in terms or shoots and roots.

I hope this information helps you out. I’m sorry I don’t have a more positive answer for you, but I know how expensive roses are and I don’t want to steer you wrong and have you put a lot of work into something that likely won’t work well in the long run.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

Growing Bull’s Eye Rose in a Large Container


“Is a Bull’s Eye Rose suitable for a large container?

Ron”

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hi Ron,

Thank you for your question regarding the Bull’s Eye Rose.  Container gardening is a great method for growing roses, as it brings the beauty and fragrance of roses into outdoor living spaces and right up to eye level. Potted roses can be grown in any sunny location: on a deck, terrace, patio or roof garden. It is a good option for anyone with limited garden space, poor soil or drainage problems, or apartment-bound gardeners. Bull's Eye Rose

Unfortunately, Bull’s Eye Rose is not a good choice for growing in a container.  Roses that work well in containers need to be 4 feet tall or under, as the height of the pot plus the height of the rose should not exceed a gardener’s height because one still needs to be able to easily care for and spray the rose. Bull’s Eye comes in at around 4-5 feet. When you add that to the height of the pot that would be needed (around 30-36 in tall), you have a rose that would be about 7-8 feet tall. It’s just not a feasible plan.

I hope this information helps you out. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask!

Invicta Gooseberry with Disease? Or Something Entirely Different?


“I saw your post the other day about the gentleman from Bloomer, WI that had issues with his Ben Sarek currants from Jung Seed, and I wanted to ask you about my bare root gooseberry that I received from them via the mail. It was supposed to be an Invicta gooseberry, but the leaves are not the traditional lobed leaf that you see on a gooseberry, and it has some disease. I called the company, and they said that sometimes the first set of leaves that come out are not true leaves, but the second set of leaves will be the true leaves that will look more like a gooseberry. It may also be how they grow here in Maine. I’ve grown other varieties of gooseberry and I’ve never had different types of leaves. And why would something grow different in Maine? That sounds fishy! Or am I wrong? I have since moved the “gooseberry” to a pot and away from the rest of my gooseberries so that it will not give them its disease. Please help!

Janice”

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hi Janice,

Thank you for your post and for emailing me the photo. This story just makes me shake my head for a number of reasons:

1. True leaves on a woody plant versus non true leaves?!?!? I’m a seasoned old horticulturist that has a degree in botany too. If it is a plant that grows in garden, I know it inside and out. The only thing I can think of here is that the person you spoke to is confusing cotyledons with true leaves? Maybe? I don’t know… Or that when a bud breaks, like on a maple tree, there is a small modified leaf that covers the bud with the leaves and blossom inside and is kind of short near the base and quickly dies? But still, gooseberries do not have those.  Sorry, but I think the customer service person you spoke with didn’t have a clue as to what they were saying, but was trying to sound very educated and like they knew what they were talking about.

2. The leaves above are NOT a gooseberry (Invicta or otherwise) and the future leaves never will be either. This plant is a LILAC!!!

3.  As for the disease, it looks like Edema.  Edema is a problems that occurs under cool, wet conditions when the soil is warmer than the atmosphere. Edema happens when the roots take up more water than the plant loses through transpiration (water loss through pores on the leaf surface called stomata), thus resulting in accumulation of water in the intercellular spaces of the leaf tissue. The excess water accumulation causes the leaf cells to enlarge and expand to a point where they block the stomatal openings.  At some point, the cells become so large that they pop like an overinflated balloon. The remaining damaged cell tissue turns brown and crusty and multiple broken cells for spots like those seen in your photo.

 

If it were me, I would demand a correct replacement or my money back. If you haven’t already, send this picture in to them. Any horticulturist or plant buyer on staff SHOULD know the difference!

 

I hope this information helps you out. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask!

***********************************************************************************************

© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Growing Tomatoes on the Porch


“I have an enclosed porch that I would like to try to grow some tomatoes but I’m not sure what variety. What type should I look for that will grow in greenhouse type conditions? What are the different types of pollination? I noticed some in the catalogue say open pollination.  Thank you for your time
Salley”

___________________________________________________________

Hi Salley,

Thank you for the email regarding tomatoes that would do well on your enclosed porch.  Depending on the set-up you have, different varieties will work well for different conditions.

If the roof of your porch has skylights or is glass/clear, then any tomato variety would be fine.  The only thing is that you would need to make sure that the container size corresponds to the size of plant that will grow for
a particular variety.

If the roof does not have light coming through, then you are going to want to go with a shorter day tomato.  During the summer, the rays from the sun are more overhead and would not be able to get in to your plants through the roof.  By having a shorter day variety, you can have the plants growing more in the spring or more in the fall so the sun is lower in the sky and the rays of sunshine will be able to reach the plants.  Some varieties that would work well are Glacier, Siberian, and Sub-Arctic Plenty.

As for pollination, open pollination means that the plant is not a hybrid and seeds saved from the tomato fruits would come back true to type if planted the following year.  A hybrid is a cross between two different parent types and has seeds that would not come back true if they were saved from the fruits.

To pollinate the plants, you need to make sure that they are moved a bit/vibrated during the day.  Tomato flowers are called perfect flowers because they have both male and female parts in the same flower.  By making
the flowers move, the pollen is moved around within the flower and pollination occurs.  Moving the plants can be done in one of three ways:
1.  If you have windows that open in your enclosed porch and the whether outside is nice, open them up and allow the breeze to come in.  Out in the garden, tomatoes are pollinated by the breezes moving the branches.  Let
nature do the work for you!
2.  If you have a vibrating back or hand massager, you can hold it up to the stem and branches of the plants when they are in bloom.  Make sure you don’t dig the massager into the plant because you do not want to damage the stem. Holding it lightly on the stem or branch will be enough.
3.  You can also give the pots of the a gentle shake.  When doing this, the intention is to have the leaves/branches move a little and not to make the plant feel like it is going through an earthquake.

I hope this information helps you out.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

********************************************************************************************

© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.