Garden Diary - March 2010

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Thursday, 18 March 2010
Getting Potted

I confess. We were in Lowe's (a big box, warehouse-type store for those who might have just woken up from a century-long nap in a fairy's dun under the hill.) They had bags of bulbs with big, bright, colorful pictures.

. . . .

I succumbed. Everything had uniform pricing, so for $9.98 I bought a bag of 50 liatris corms and the same again got me a bag of ten Stargazer lily bulbs. Now what to do?

The ground is sodden from melting snow and rain. There is a great deal of cleanup to do after winter's wind, fallen branches, windrows of old leaves. The stupid labels -really now, suggesting "full sun / partial shade, 2+ hours of direct sunlight" just does not equate to my mind. Equally interesting, the icon in English shows a symbol for full sun. The adjacent symbol for the information in Spanish is an icon for half shade, But I digress. Back to what I have to say.

The lilies really want to get growing. Whether right side up or upside down they're sending out shoots and roots in the crowded plastic bag.

. . . .

The liatris are more restrained about it but small red nubbins of growth are visible on the corms' upper surface. So I potted them up.

Lilies are true bulbs. Their scales do not completely encircle the core, as do onions and daffodils. Nor do lilies have a papery tunic wrapped around them on the outside. What they do have are permanent fleshy roots that should not be damaged, trimmed off, or allowed to dry out. In addition, some lily species and cultivars have annual roots (call them seasonal roots, if you prefer) that grow along the underground portion of the stem each year. Obviously, the deeper the lily bulb is planted - within reason - the more roots that will be produced and the better nourished will be the plant. I potted the lilies individually, using a coffee filter at the bottom to retain good loose soil in the pot while still allowing water to drain.

The liatris are more of an issue, in part because there were so many more of them.
But they're not as advanced in their growth as the lilies which cannot go outdoors.
So I potted most of the liatris in a 38-cell super-plug tray, and the rest in 3 large pots.

The liatris can wait outdoors where cooler-than-greenhouse temperatures will slow their growth,
hopefully until the soil is prepared and nicely rooted, starting-to-grow liatris can be planted out.

Now to get back to picking up sticks and raking dead leaves and catching up with cleaning up.

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