This weekend marks one of those exciting dates in the gardening calendar. Saturday 8th February is the day Caley members take our potted bulbs out of the plunge and get them started on the road to flowering, all in good time for the Caley Spring Show at the end of March.
Last autumn we potted up Narcissus, Tulips and Hyacinths at the Caley Bulb Workshop day and plunged them outside in a frame covered over with a layer of loose compost about 150mm deep. Over the autumn and winter the bulbs will have developed a good root system and the points of the foliage and perhaps even the flower spike will be well through the nose of the bulb. Occasionally the spears of foliage will have pushed through the compost covering and emerged into the light and the ends of the leaves will have greened up. Those leaves that have developed completely in the dark will be a yellowish green. The compost in the pots will be saturated after the winter rains and hopefully the labels will still be in evidence. Now starts the exciting bit.
Pots will be washed down and the excess compost cleaned off so that there is sufficient space at the top of the pot to allow a generous watering.
Lesson 1: Don’t water the pots yet, it is best to allow them to dry out a little first so that you have better control over the water they receive. In nature Narcissus grow in areas where the snow melt of spring provides them with all the water and nutrients they need for their growth and flowering. They grow in deep soils that are free draining and so are able to make use of water that drains through the compost.
Lesson 2: Once the pots are out of the plunge and placed in a slightly shaded position to allow the yellow leaves to turn green. Narcissus, hyacinths and tulips are all perfectly hardy and so there is no need to provide them with any heat at the moment. That will come later.
George has included here a set of photographs of his current stock of potted bulbs ‘Chez Anderson’ these were taken out of the plunge two weeks ago and already are well greened up and have had one watering.