It has been a while since I have posted on the blog, and I apologize for that. Most of the winter has been spent dealing with the ravages of El Nino. We have had about 35" of rain here locally, almost all of it in the past two months, and since I live in a valley, there has been extensive flooding. Two years ago we had had only four inches of rain around this time, so I really can't complain, but it does present challenges as far as keeping the bulbs healthy.
Here are some tips to keep bulbs going in the winter during very wet weather when humidity may be 100%.
- Keep the bulbs dry. This may mean you don't water at all for extended periods. Winter growing species, such as South African Oxalis, Gladiolus, Moraea, etc., and California natives may need some watering, but they can all do well growing very dry.
- Amaryllids should probably not be watered at all during winter.
- If you do need to water, try to keep the foliage dry. I do this by trickling water into the pot, not using a spray attachment to the hose.
- Keep fans on all the time. If you have a greenhouse, there should be fans to circulate the air, but fans that blow directly onto the bulbs will help prevent fungal disease.
- For winter sown seedlings, you MUST keep fans blowing across the surface of the flats continuously.
- Grow your bulbs in a fast draining mix with minimum organic material. I use a mix that is high in horticultural pumice and supply nutrients through fertilization with a soluble fertilizer with micronutrients. Do not fertilize unless bulbs are in active growth.
In spite of all these precautions there have been losses, mostly of seedlings. My Gladiolus seedlings seem to be the most susceptible to fungal disease and I have lost most of those, but other species are doing well.