Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

Tag Archive: bulbs

Seed Collecting and Bulb Planting

I have quite a lot of bulbs already in the garden both in the ground and in pots. However I couldn’t resist a few more and have bought some single snowdrops, Russian Snowdrops and Iris bulbs. Now I have to decide where to plant them. My other hesitant purchase was English Bluebells. I already have some very old Bluebells in the garden so I must be sure not to plant them too near to each other I think. My garden is quite small but my appetite for flowers is enormous. Laura has also caught the bug and has bought Glory of the snow and Honeybells, a new one to me. Update – Most of the new bulbs are now either in the garden or in pots.

Our other passion has been seed collecting. As well as collecting as many as we can from flowers in the garden, which is very rewarding, we have been known to steal the odd seed head from friends. Whilst watching Gardeners World last week I saw something that made me smile and think, why didn’t I think of that. There was a couple who had dedicated their garden to perennials and wildlife. The lady shocked me when she said when my flowers have gone to seed I simply cut off a stem that has seed heads forming and push it into the ground where I want the flower to grow next season and let nature take it’s course and the seeds gently fall exactly where I want them to grow. Well, it’s so simple I just had to try it out. I tried it with Japanese Anemone, Black Eyed Susan and Verbena Lollipop. I will update this post next year with results.

The Science – A mature seed typically consists of a mature plant ovum containing a minute, partially developed young plant, the embryo, surrounded by an abundant supply of food and enclosed by a protective coat. Plants that seed are divided into two main groups: the gymnosperms, primarily cone bearing plants such as pine, spruce, and fir trees, and the angiosperms, the flowering plants. The gymnosperms have naked ovules which, at the time of pollination, are exposed directly to the pollen grains. Their food supply in the seed is composed of a female gametophyte, rather than the endosperm found in angiosperms.

In angiosperms, seeds develop from ovules that are enclosed in a protective ovary. The ovary is the basal portion of the carpel, typically vase shaped and located at the center of the flower. The top of the carpel, the stigma, is sticky, and when a pollen grain lands upon it, the grain is firmly held. The germinating pollen grain produces a pollen tube that grows down through the stigma and style into the ovary and pierces the ovule.

Two male sperm nuclei are released from the pollen grain and travel down the pollen tube into the ovule. One of the sperm nuclei fuses with an egg cell inside the ovule. This fertilized egg divides many times and develops into the embryo. The second male nucleus unites with other parts of the ovule and develops into the endosperm, a starchy or fatty tissue that is used by the embryo as a source of food during germination. Angiosperm seeds remain protected at maturity. While the seed develops, the enclosing ovary also develops into a hard shell, called the seed coat or testa. 

Kaffir Lily – Schizostylis – Mrs Hegarty

My Kaffir Lilies came from Sean and Deb. A couple of pots of green that I had no idea about. This Autumn they have thrown up the most amazing pink flowers and on asking Deb found that they are called Kaffir Lilies. I am very keen to divide these and also to try growing more from saved seed. What an unexpected treasure. Schizostylis is Latin for Divided Style.

A bit of research on line and I find:- The flowers are generally a delicate pink or orange red. The flowering clusters look very delicate.  It is a member of the Iris family Iridaceae. The variety that I have is Mrs Hegarty. Schizostylis can be planted anywhere in moist well drained soil and are particularly suited to the front of perennial borders. They prefer full sun but will also tolerate a degree of shade especially below deciduous trees or shrubs. Schizostylis are striking in any garden owing to their delicate flowers at a sometimes colourless time of year. Peeping up through early leaf litter, the flowers stand out well against other more conventional autumn and winter shades. The Kaffir Lily which originates from South Africa is evergreen but with slender leaves that will not be too invasive. They will form clumps over the course of a year or so and are splendid in large drifts. Schizostylis also make admirable container plants and if moved to a cold greenhouse during early winter will provide a succession of flowers for several months. The flowers are well suited to cutting. As Schizostylis are evergreen rhizomatous perennials they are normally bought as pot grown plants.  When planting add plenty of compost to the planting hole and mulch after planting. Schizostylis can be grown from seed. Be aware that the seedlings may be of different colour to the parent. Save the seed until spring and sow in gentle heat. Schizostylis can be propagated by dividing the rhizomes during early spring.

Schizostylis  plants such as Kaffir lilies can be grown from tubers or seeds. Tubers should be buried at about 5cm deep in the spring. Seed should be sown before the last frost of spring lightly covered with topsoil. They can grow in either sunny or partially shaded conditions and requires an area of the garden that has good drainage. Ideally the soil that the lily grows in will be rich, moist and have a PH that is neutral to slightly acidic. If you plan to start off indoors then start about two or three months in advance  as they need to be transplanted just after the last frost of spring. It should take from one to three months for seeds to germinate at a temperature of 12-15 degrees centigrade. Once ready transplant outdoors at about 25cm apart.

Agapanthus Africanus – Love Flower

I have never grown Agapanthus before. The first time I became aware of them was when my son Sean and his partner Deb came to Adam’s house to create an instantly beautiful garden when Adam received his new wheelchair and wanted to spend time outside. The Agapanthus arrived big and beautiful and smothered in vibrant blue flowers and were put in at eye level for Adam to enjoy along with many other hardy perennials. As Adam became more and more poorly and Winter arrived we spent most of the time indoors. When Adam passed away in February 2016 I came home and eighteen months have passed. On 20th August I went to the house for the twins fifth birthday and went out into the garden to see it very neglected but there were the Agapanthus with a few seed heads still containing very ripe seed. I brought a few seed heads home and was very pleased to find 80 seeds just waiting for me to sow. As I had no growing experience of these plants I had a bit of research to do. The name is derived from the Greek for Love Flower. I have 80 seeds and today, 26th August, I have sown 20 seeds in a module tray of sandy compost with a covering of horticultural grit. Germination should be around 30 days. I have just read another article which advises sowing in March so if the first 20 don’t survive I can try again in Spring.

Apparently there are seven Agapanthus species possibly because they freely hybridise. They are magnificent bulbous plants which produce an unrivalled show of blue when grown well. Their large umbels of blue trumpets are quite unlike anything else. Easily grown in well drained sunny positions. It is essential that the roots do not become waterlogged in Winter. Remember that plants grown in pots are at a risk of freezing whereas the ground usually stays above freezing point especially if the crowns are well protected with a deep mulch. Agapanthus will tolerate being overcrowded which suits them to growing in pots. If they need dividing do this in Spring and do not bury  the plants too deeply. Feed tub specimens liberally from Spring until flower bud are seen. All require full sun so the heads will naturally lean towards the sun. . In New Zealand Agapanthus grow particularly well, so well in fact that they are classified as a pernicious weed whose sale is prohibited.

Calla Lily – Zantedeschia

I have bought three bulbs of the Calla Lily. I am hoping to have them situated close to the pond. I know nothing about them except that for me they are expensive. I have read that they multiply annually so I hope I live long enough to see that. Initially, until the pond area is better prepared, I intend to grow these beautiful flowers in a pot. These bulbs don’t need to be dug up and stored over winter and I am glad about that. Overwintering of bulbs is one of the drawbacks of growing them I think,

The calla lily was originally found in tropical marshlands, which means it is a very thirsty plant that will not tolerate dry periods or neglect from the gardener. Either water the plant regularly during hot summer days or plant the calla lily where it can get lots of water without having to be in wet soil. If there is a small pond in your garden it will be perfect to plant calla lilies close to it  just remember that it needs to get to the water, since an artificial pond is not automatically in contact with the earth surrounding it. If this simple request of the calla lily is fulfilled, it will fill your garden. The calla lily is a hardy plant with very little needs but there are some nutritional considerations you might want to try. Just because calla lilies are sometimes considered weeds in their country of origin it does not mean that callas are hardy everywhere. However, if you give your calla lilies a little extra time and a weekly feed the result will show immediately with lots of beautiful flowers stretching up from the healthy plant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The calla lily or zantedeschia is a genus of twenty-eight different species all native to the southern parts of Africa with a tropical climate from South Africa up to Africa aligned with the northern point of Madagascar. The genus calla was originally named by the famous Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus but as it became apparent that the genus needed to be split up the German botanist Karl Koch named the new genus after his fellow botanist Giovanni Zantedeschi from Italy. It became a major hit in Europe and is still very popular as a wedding or funeral flower.

 

Asiatic Lily Double Sensation – Lilium

Asiatic Lily Double Sensation from Farmer Gracy  has fantastic colour and lovely ruffled petals. It is perfect grown in a container for use on the patio or plant the bulbs in the border where they’ll come up every year. Lilium Double Sensation is one of the most exclusive Asiatic Lilies available on the market. Asiatic Lily Double Sensation is known for its double flowers which create an amazing impact once in full bloom. Planting this delicate and rare Lily variety in pots makes a nice and compact show as the flower size of double flowered Lilies is much bigger than other regular Asiatic Lilies. Double flowering Lilies are very rare and it often takes many years to cultivate and offer them on the market. Lilies are perfect for combining with other perennials, grasses or shrubs. They like to have cool, nourished roots whilst their heads reach for the sun but choose shallow-rooting plants to prevent them sulking at the competition for both nutrients and moisture.

I received these three Lily bulbs as a free gift with a delivery of bulbs from Farmer Gracy in the Netherlands. I have planted them in an existing pot of Violas. There was a space in the middle of the pot and the violas were gathered around the outside so I made a space for them. After reading up about them I think that maybe they will need a pot of their own as they will be bigger than I thought they would be. Update – I did move these bulbs to a bigger pot of their own and already green shoots are showing.

Probably the easiest to grow and hardiest of all the lilies, Asiatic Lilies are usually the first ones to bloom, flowering between June and August. Asiatic Lilies also have the widest range of colours but, unfortunately, most do not have a fragrance. Blooms vary in style, usually in terms of how they display their flowers. Some even hang their beautiful heads in a way reminiscent of pretty paper lanterns. Asiatic Lilies should be planted in full sun in soil that drains well. The bulbs don’t do well in soggy soil.

Freesia Mixed Colour Bulbs

I have planted twenty Freesia bulbs today in a large terracotta patio pot. I put them into Miracle Gro All Purpose compost. I have never grown these flowers before as I had always thought them to be difficult but this year I’m giving them a try. I have bought them in the past as cut flowers and love the perfume.

Cultivation has meant that Freesias are now available in more colours than the original wild South African yellow and white ones. These delicate, beautiful and fragrant flowers now come in shades of red, pink, orange, lavender and even bicolour. Excellent long-lasting cut flowers, Freesias give their blooms an uncommon display platform by bending the flowering tips of the 1′ stalks that each support about 8 funnel-shaped flowers, about 90 degrees and presenting the upward-facing blooms horizontally. Freesia bulbs like soil that has good drainage and prefer sunny places to grow. Freesias flower in late summer and autumn.

A bit of a challenge to grow but well worth the effort, these cottage garden favourites produce sprays of fragrant, funnel-shaped flowers at the ends of arching, branched stems in summer. A favourite with the florists as they are excellent cut flowers. They look superb planted in a mix border or in patio pots. So say Crocus.com. These bulbs were planted on 11th March and today 1st April, are pushing through the soil.

Snake in the Grass

Fritillaria meleagris

Fritillaria meleagris –  Add plenty of well rotted manure or garden compost to the soil prior to planting to improve soil.  Plant snakes head fritillary bulbs at a depth of 4″ and 4″ apart. The bulbs are fragile so always handle them with care. Planting them on their sides will help to avoid water collecting in their hollow crowns and prevent the bulbs from rotting. Divide from August to September. Information and picture from thompson-morgan.com

I have tried to grow these lovely things before without any success. I now have fifty bulbs and have to decide where to plant them. Some plants men say that the flower is deadly poisonous. It has many common names as well as snakehead it is called lepers lily.

Grigson, in his Englishman’s Flora, calls the Fritillaria  meleagris snaky, deadly beauties, but there is little written evidence of harm.

On sunless days in winter, we shall know
By whom the silver gossamer is spun,
Who paints the diapered fritillaries,
On what wide wings from shivering pine to pine the eagle flies.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

Chionodoxa – Glory of the Snow

Chionodoxa

Chionodoxa bulbs are new to me and were part of a collection of Spring bulbs I bought from www.thompson-morgan.com . I am planting them in a large pot for now but maybe next year when we remake the rockery and pond I can use them there too.

One of the first bulbs to flower in the spring, Glory of the Snow, creates a carpet of colour, naturalising well beneath trees and shrubs. These flowers also make a hardy and low-maintenance addition to rock gardens and spring patio pots where they’ll return year after year. Height: 6″ Picture and information from www.thompson-morgan.com

Oriental Lilies – Lilieaceae

Oriental lilies prefer a moist, free draining, neutral to acid soil that is rich in organic matter. Prior to planting, add plenty of well rotted manure or garden compost to the soil to give your lilies the best start. When growing lilies in containers, use a loam based compost such as John Innes No.2. Lily bulbs should be planted at a depth of approximately 3 times their own height and 15cm (6″) apart. Planting deeply helps to protect the bulb during particularly hot periods. Choose a sheltered, sunny position where lilies will grow with their heads in the sun and their roots in the shade. Information and photograph from T&M where I bought the bulbs.

I am ready and waiting for them to arrive which I’m told will be late November. I shall put them into two large black, square planters. Well the Lilies arrived this morning November 7th. Unfortunately I have run out of compost. I have ordered some more so another wait now until it arrives. The Lilies are sitting in the fridge for now. Friday 11th November. All the lilies are in now. I divided them up between two large pots, keeping one back to put directly into the garden in the white border.

Oriental Lilies range from 2′ – 6′  and their very large flowers emit a strong fragrance when they bloom in the later part of summer. Their flowers, often freckled or lined, tend to lift outwards or to the sky, as though soaking up the sun they enjoy so much. Blooms are usually wide open, with recurved petals. Not always the easiest lilies to grow, their large fragrant flowers make it worth the effort. Oriental Lilies grow best in full sun in rich, slightly acidic, and well-drained soil; like lots of water during the growth period and some mulch to keep their roots cool. Smaller varieties of the Oriental Lily do well in containers, and all make superb cut flowers. 13th March – The lilies are a foot high already and I plan to mulch with ericaceous compost tomorrow and move them out away from the wall and into a sunnier part of the garden. I am looking forward to finding out what colours I have.

 

Rose Arthur Bell

image

I planted another of the bare root roses from Aldi in a large pot today. It is Rosa Arthur Bell, a beautiful fragrant yellow rose. I planted some yellow tulip bulbs around it. Tulip Yokohama and a few small bulbs of Brodiaea. Update: I lost this rose. I’m not sure if it was because of the weather or that I put too many bulbs in the pot with it.