Category Archives: Other Bulbs for Warm Climates

Watsonia is a Tall, Cutting Flower from the Gladiolus Family

Watsonia is a Tall, Cutting Flower from the Gladiolus Family

Watsonia needs only sun and water and amended soil to thrive, multiply and keep producing tall stems as the corms produce 4-6 foot blooms!  They make a good back of the border addition and require no special care.

Even most non-gardeners are on a first name basis with Gladiolas, but not everyone knows Glad's cousin, Watsonia. Watsonia's an easy gal and we mean that in the nicest way. She doesn't need rich soil, copious amounts of fertilizer, insecticides or other fussing. Give her sunshine and some occasional water, and she's happy. Often happy enough to multiply, making her a perfect plant for busy gardeners. Watsonia bulbs are an excellent example of how simple gardening can be when the right plant is matched to suitable growing conditions. Warm climate gardeners, do yourself a favor and give watsonia a try. Fresh watsonia bulbs are available from early September through mid November only. Get them while you can!    Outdoor Beds Find a location where the soil drains well. If there are still water puddles 5-6 hours after a hard rain, scout out another site. Or amend the soil with the addition of organic material to raise the level 2-3 inches to improve the drainage. Peat moss, compost, ground bark or decomposed manure all work well and are widely available. Site your watsonia where they will receive full sun. Dig holes and plant the watsonia bulbs (corms, actually) 4" deep and 4"-6" apart. The corms look like fat, flat gladiola bulbs. There is a small point or even a bit of last year's stem on the side that should be placed facing up. After planting, water watsonia well to settle the soil around the bulbs. Roots and sprouts will form in the autumn. Winter will bring taller growth and flowers will develop in the spring. When in bloom, feel free to cut watsonia flowers for bouquets. This will not hurt the plants. After blooming has finished for the season leave the foliage in place; don't cut it off. The leaves will gather sunlight, create food through photosynthesis and strengthen the bulb for the future. Water as needed during active growth periods; about 1" of moisture per week is a good estimate. At the end of the summer the leaves will yellow and die back as the plant slips into dormancy. Foliage may be removed at this point. Your watsonia will rest for a few months before beginning the next growing cycle. Watsonia form sizeable clumps over time and eventually flowering will diminish. When this occurs, dig up the clump and separate it into a number of smaller plants. Distribute them around your garden or share your bounty with friends. Replant promptly. Pots, Barrels, Tubs & Urns Use a large, heavy container; watsonia grow 4-6 feet tall. Fill your containers with good quality, well-drained soil. Almost any commercially available potting medium will work fine. Make sure there are adequate drainage holes; watsonia must never sit in waterlogged soil or they will rot. Site your containers where they will receive full sun. Plant your watsonia 4" deep and 4"-5" apart for the most brilliant display. The corms look like fat, flat gladiola bulbs with a small point or even a bit of last year's stem on the side that should be placed facing up. After planting, water your containers well to settle the soil around your bulbs. Roots will form in the fall. A few sprouts may also develop in autumn if you live in a warm region. Taller top growth and flower stems will form in the spring. Enjoy your flowering containers, snipping a few flowers if you like. This won't hurt your plants. After blooming has finished for the season leave the foliage in place; don't cut it off. The leaves will gather sunlight, create food through photosynthesis and strengthen the bulb for the future. Water as needed during active growth periods; about 1" per week. At the end of the summer the leaves will yellow and die back as the plant slips into dormancy. Foliage may be removed at this point. Your watsonia will rest for a few months before beginning the next growing cycle. Watsonia will form sizeable clumps over time and eventually flowering will diminish. When this occurs, dig up the clump and separate it into a number of smaller plants. Distribute them around your garden or share with friends. Replant promptly. Quantity tips: For 12-15” pots - plant 10 For 10” pots - plant 7 For 8” pots - plant 5   Customer Service  Contact Us Our Guarantee Ordering Info Track Your Order About Us  About Us Contact Us Follow Us on TwitterFind us on Facebook  Pin us on Pinterest  Add us on Google+ Shipping Info  General Shipping Info Shipping Charges Privacy & Security  Privacy Policy Site Security Sitemap Receive our Newsletter

 

Outdoor Beds
  1. Find a location where the soil drains well and amend it with peat moss, compost, ground bark or decomposed manure as needed.
  2. Give them full sun.
  3. Plant the watsonia corms 4″ deep and 4″-6″ apart. The corms look like fat, flat gladiola bulbs. There may be a small point or even a bit of last year’s stem on the top of the corm that should be placed facing up.
  4. After planting, water watsonia well to settle the soil around the bulbs. Corms will root and sprouts will appear in the fall and flowers will bloom in the spring.
  5. Watsonia can be cut and will not hurt the plants.
  6. Let them die back in the summer.
  7. Foliage may be removed after the leaves die back and the corms become dormant.  In the fall they will begin the growth cycle again.
  8. As Watsonia will form large clumps over time and may eventually diminish in blooms, they can be dug and separated ar this time.  Replant promptly.
Barrels and Pots

Follow the same directions as above, but be sure to use very large pots or barrels as these grow very tall!

 

 

Saffron Crocus

Saffron Crocus or Crocus Sativus 

Saffron Crocus The excitement is heating up as the bulbs are finishing their growth for the year and are being harvested in many countries around the world.  The Middle East is a prime location for big fields of bulbs, but India, France and the Netherlands are other countries growing the Saffron Crocus.  Each corm is planted 3″ down and about 2″ apart and they increase over time into clumps.

Growing  Saffron Crocus 

Saffron Crocus The corms are planted upon receipt and can be planted any time during the year, but are ideally planted in the fall after the harvest, drying and shipping of the bulbs from their country of origin.  They go dormant, much like naked ladies or other adapted bulbs to dry climates, and send up foliage and flower buds at the same time.  As the foliage is grass like and thin, most of the show comes from the flower.

Harvesting Saffron Spice and Aftercare

Each flower has three threads of saffron spice and they must be harvested as soon as the flower opens.  The threads are plucked off and placed on a surface to dry.  They are then ready to be put into an airtight container or used immediately for cooking.

Saffron Crocus

After the blooming period, the corms will divide and produce many smaller corms.  Eventually these will grow larger and produce clumps with many flowers.  In climates that get frost, the corms may be left in the ground as long as there is not a heavy freeze but will benefit from mulching.  Or they can be dug up and brought into a cool basement or garage as long as the temperatures are not freezing as well.  If left in the ground, they go through a dry and dormant period during the summer and begin to grow again in the fall and bloom usually in the late fall.  It takes 70,000 flowers to produce one pound of saffron, and the price of $5000 per pound indicates the labor that goes into the production of the spice, saffron, and makes it the most expensive spice in the world.

Brodaea Queen Fabiola

I had a couple of very pleasant surprises when we drove into a air field for a glider ride!  First of all, the glider ride over Hidden Valley in Sonoma was a delight. Before we got into the office, I had noticed a very large expanse of Brodaea, and after picking some and looking them up again, decided that they were similar to Queen Fabiola which I thought was a hybrid of a wild flower.  Instead, these were truly beatiful, full umbels of blue flowers like those I used to sell when I first began my bulb business and then grew for five years as cut flowers.   They have also been reclassified at Tritelia.  In the bouquet below, there are 2 stems of the Brodaea or Tritelia with some buds still to open.  

Brodaea Queen Fabiola

In any case, we added them to the bouquet of wild flowers we had been identifying and collecting, although we had left the rare Mt. St. Helena faun lily in place.  I listed twenty varieties that we had found and the brodaea were the last ones along with the unusal clover in their patch.  The owners of the air strip said the flowers had always been there and were not sown as far as they knew.

I’ve now added Brodaea, Queen Fabiola back onto my listing of bulbs and look forward to planting some in my pasture next year.  I want to go back to the airfield and dig some up to see how deeply they grow naturally and photograph them.  Meanwhile, here is a photo I found on line of them planted in a border.  They are a very long lasting cut flower, a breautiful addition to the perennial border and a very good value for such a beautiful flower.  The stems on the commercial varities is about 12″.  Do enjoy them in every setting!

Brodaea Queen Fabiola

 

Amaryllis Belladonna

Amaryllis Belladona Bulbs – Naked Lady – With Peonies as well

Amaryllis Belladona Bulbs – Naked Lady – With Peonies as well

One of the highlights of August blooms is that of the pink surprise of the Naked Ladies or Amaryllis Belladona. The green straps of leaves which are apparent in the spring die back for the summer, and then suddenly, the elegant stems begin to shoot up.

Amaryllis Belladona Bulbs - Naked Lady - With Peonies as well

From the photo, you can see that no foliage is showing and in these cases, the bulb itself is barely visible. They are planted very shallowly as well and the best time is after they have bloomed and before they send up the strappy leaves for replenishing the bulb.

Amaryllis Belladona Bulbs - Naked Lady - With Peonies as well

These Naked Ladies were planted about 10 years ago and I wish I could remember how many there were at the time they went into the ground.  As you can see the clumps form around a single bulb and are in various stages of emerging from the dead leaves.  As these are outside my fence, they have not been affected by deer or gophers and have increased readily.  The first sign of the bloom is a triangular, pointed spear and they grow quickly and begin to bloom with others following.  They also spread by seed as the next photos will show.

Amaryllis Belladona Bulbs - Naked Lady - With Peonies as well

These two are at the bottom of the slope and probably have formed from seed. In a well tended garden, the dried foliage would be removed.

Amaryllis Belladona Bulbs - Naked Lady - With Peonies as well

Above, naked ladies have been spread by birds from seed. They are across the driveway from the patch outside my fence pictured above and are about two years old.  They are emerging among young herbaceous peony plants and have increased from the one flower last year or the year before. The next photo will show the depth of the bulb grown from seed – almost none!

Amaryllis Belladona Bulbs - Naked Lady - With Peonies as well

One of the things I appreciate about this bloom is the lavender, blue tinged stem. There is a third stem coming out of the smaller bulb on the right. I’m tempted to scatter some of the seed this year in a known spot to see how long it takes them to germinate!

Amaryllis Belladona Bulbs - Naked Lady - With Peonies as well

This volunteer Naked Lady shows how tall (over 3 feet) it can grow, probably because it is shaded. This one is emerging next to a large “Carefree” shrub rose and is exactly the same color combination.

Easy and satisfying, the Amaryllis Belladona is a special accent in the garden.