Thursday, September 28, 2017

How to force bulbs  to bloom indoors 

Forcing bulbs is a great way to bring a little spring color into the house, while it's still winter outside. To force a bulb is to get the bulb to flower indoors ahead of its natural schedule.
Virtually all spring flowering bulbs can be forced, including crocus, daffodils, hyacinths, muscari and tulips. 
Forcing bulbs indoors is easy to do. The key part of the process to bring these bulbs to bloom indoors is to keep them in a cool (35° - 48° F) spot for 12 to 15 weeks.   The vegetable section in the refrigerator is a great spot to chill bulbs. A cool corner of the basement or garage will also work. A cold frame will do, if you mulch the bulbs heavily and keep them from freezing.
Begin by selecting quality bulbs. The larger the bulb, the bigger the bloom will be.
When it comes to containers, bulbs will grow equally well in clay, ceramic or plastic pots, as long as the pot has drainage.
Fill the container about 1/3rd full of quality potting soil. Don't use garden soil. It's too heavy.
Add Happy Frog Bulb Food or Dutch Bulb Food to your potting mix.
Place the bulbs close together, with a little space between each bulb.
Tulips should be placed with the flat side of the bulb toward the edge of the container.
This will allow the first leaves to form a nice border around the edge of the pot.
Fill in enough soil so just the tips are showing. Water the soil and place the pot in a cool (35° - 48°) spot. Spring flowering bulbs require 12 to 15 weeks in cold storage in order to bloom properly. While the bulbs are chilling, they will form roots, so it’s important to water regularly. Once the tips of the bulbs are about 2” high, remove from cold storage and place in a warmer room, with bright, indirect sunlight. Your bulbs can now be treated as any houseplant, water regularly, feed weekly and enjoy your blooms! After blooming, remove the spent flowers. Bulbs may be planted outside after blooming. For longer blooms indoors, stagger start your bulbs several weeks apart. This way, you'll have bulbs flowering at different stages through the winter.
Traditional holiday bulbs such as amaryllis and
paperwhites will bloom for you without going through a chilling period. You can take these bulbs home, plant them in an attractive container, place them in a sunny window and watch them grow.
Amaryllis and
paperwhites are easy to grow in water as well as potting soil.
Starting amaryllis and paperwhite  bulbs at different times will extend your blooms well into winter. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Plant these bulbs for early Spring color

You’ll see them in early spring, often blooming through the snow. Brightly colored crocus flowers are a sure sign that spring is on its way.
Crocus blooms are soon followed in succession by other small bulbs (called minor bulbs) including grape hyacinths and galanthus, then the major bulbs including daffodils, tulips and hyacinths. 
These are hardy bulbs, meaning they will survive our winters and bloom season after season, with just a little care. As a rule, plant bulbs two to three times their height. A two inch bulb should be buried five to six inches deep. You can vary the bloom time by the depth you plant each bulb. Shallow planted bulbs will bloom earlier; deeper bulbs will bloom later in the season. The risk with planting too shallow is the bulb may not survive the winter. Another trick to control bloom time is to add two or three inches of mulch to the bed. This will keep the ground cold and slow bloom time. All bulbs will do best when planted in well-amended soil, in a sunny spot in the garden. Once planted, bulbs will root out, and then stay dormant until the soil warms up in spring.
Adding Bone Meal or Dutch Bulb Food at planting time will improve rooting and bulb growth.
rocus “bulbs” are technically corms. They are solid inside like a potato and they have a papery outer covering which is called a tunic. One side is flatter than the other. The flat side goes down, when you plant them.
Muscari, known as grape hyacinths, are hardy spring bloomers that produce blue or purple flowers that look like bunches of grapes, hence the common name. They will do well in sun or semi-shade and spread naturally.
Galanthus are very early to arrive in spring, often blooming before crocus. Galanthus will do well in sun or partial shade.
Scillia Siberica will appear soon after Galanthus, with dark blue flowers. For best effect, minor bulbs should be planted in clusters, not lined out in rows.  Check on your bulbs through the winter. They should be watered every four to five weeks, along with the rest of the trees and shrubs in your landscape.   

Thursday, September 14, 2017

How to help trees with iron chlorosis

It may feel like summer today, but fall is on the way. You can feel it in the early morning air, while you're working in your garden. Your trees can feel it too. The days are getting shorter, which means the sunlight is less intense. Tree leaves begin to adjust by producing less chlorophyll, allowing more orange and yellow pigments to show through. It's part of the process that produces our colorful fall foliage. There are many trees around town that seemed to have had "fall foliage" colors all year long. These trees, particularly maples, never turned green.
If you look closely, leaf color may vary from pale green
to a burned look, in extreme
Trees that look like this are sufferi
ng from a condition known as iron chlorosis.  They need iron. They're anemic, if you will.  Left untreated, iron deficiency will eventually kill the tree. The good news is there are several things you can do to correct iron deficiency. First of all, you can apply an iron supplement to the tree. You can purchase iron supplements in liquid and granular form.
All iron
supplements will help, especially those that are "chelated".
Existing trees can absorb and take up chelated irons more readily than other forms.
Iron supplements should be applied now, as well as spring and summer. To fix the problem long-term, you have to fix the soil. Our native soils typically contain sufficient iron to keep trees healthy. The problem is our heavy clay, high alkaline soils prevent certain trees from taking up iron on their own. Amending the soil is the answer.
Applying organic materials such as c
ompost, peat moss and humate will improve soil structure and reduce alkalinity. Each of these products is applied to the area under the tree's dripline, three times per year. This is easily done if your tree is planted in your lawn.
Put the
HuMic down first and water it in.
Follow this with a thin (1/8" to ¼") layer of Sheep and Peat or Peat Moss and water in thoroughly.
If your tree is surrounded by mulch, you can pull the mulch back past the drip line and follow the same process as above: HuMic, then Sheep and Peat or Peat Moss and water in.  If your tree is planted in rock mulch and there's no way to move the rock, consider drilling a series of holes 12" to 18", apart and 8" deep around the drip line and filling each hole with HuMic and Sheep and Peat and water in. Repeated applications will improve the soil structure, increase microbial activity and encourage the tree to take up more iron on its own. In order to assure the continued health of your trees, adding organic material and humic acid to your soil should become part of your routine maintenance. This also applies to lawns, roses, perennials and shrubs. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Time to plant fall blooming bulbs

Most bulbs that are planted in the fall are the spring-blooming kind such as daffodils, tulips and hyacinths. Two exceptions to this rule are Colchicum and Crocus sativas. Like their spring blooming relatives, Colchicum and Crocus sativas are hardy bulbs, meaning they will typically survive our winters and continue to grow and multiple for many seasons to come.  Planting fall blooming bulbs is relatively easy. Whether you choose Colchicum, Crocus or both, the success of these plantings is rooted in the quality of the soil they are planted in.
Start out by picking a site that receives full sun and add 2" to 3" of Sheep, Peat and Compost Work this amendment into your existing soil about 5" to 6"deep. Next, dig a hole two to three times as deep as the bulb is high. That means for Colchicum the bulb will be planted 6" to 7" deep and for Crocus 4" to 5" deep.
Add some Bone Meal to the bottom of the planting hole and cover it slightly. You want the bulb to root into the bone meal.
Place each bulb flat side down and about one bulb width apart. Fill the hole with soil and then water thoroughly. Label the spot so you'll remember what was planted and where. Once in the ground, these bulbs will bloom typically within 6 to 7 weeks. As the blooms fade, remove the spent flowers. Come spring, each bulb will send up a set of leaves. This is how the bulb reenergizes so it can bloom again, in the fall.
Colchicum will also blossom on your window sill. Simply place them in a glass container and they will soon bloom. Forcing bulbs to bloom indoors takes a lot out of them. You can plant the bulb outdoors once they've stopped blooming but it may take several seasons for these bulbs to bloom again.
sativas is best known for producing the spice saffron from the filaments that grow inside the flower. You may harvest and dry the stigma. It will take about 150 flowers to make one gram of dried saffron. Planting Colchicum and Crocus sativas is a great way to add color to your late fall garden.