Annuals, Tropical’s and tender bulbs

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This snippet has been taken from “The well – designed mixed garden”. Annuals, Tropical’s and tender bulbs, is a plant that completes its life cycle, from germination to the production of seeds, within one growing season, and then dies. “Tree Removal in Hayward CA“, provides you important information on these annual plants.

Annuals, Tropical’s, and tender bulbs

Annuals, Tropical’s, and tender bulbs are normally heavy feeders, heavier than the other plant groups we have discussed. They prosper in nutrient-rich compost-amended soil. To really promote strong growth, it is helpful to fertilize every two weeks with fish emulsion and once a month with a balanced granular organic fertilizer. Tropical s in particular seem to do better with a boost of fertilizer to help them reach the colossal sizes we expect from many of them. Coleus elephant’s ear (Colocasia esculenta and cultivars), and other annuals grown for foliage are among the few plants in the mixed border that actually prefer high- nitrogen feedings. If they are shy to get moving, this may be the help they need. Hot plants for Cool Climates by Susan Roth and Dennis Schrader (2000) offers outstanding species- specific information on the culture of tropical’s, including great tips for overwintering   them; anyone infected by canna – banana fever will want to refer to this book.
Deadheading keeps most annuals flowering and in good shape. Remember, though: annuals that will reseed and act perennial- some of my favorites are love-in- a- mist (Nigella damascena), Verbena bonariensis, and larkspur ( Consolida ajacis) – should be allowed to go to seed. It may be desirable to collect seed and distribute some of the seed into areas that are bare for filler the next season.

I have seen and tired numerous methods for overwintering tropical’s and tender bulbs over the years. I’m sure the plethora of information out there on the subject has made your head swim as well. A lifelong dream come true was to have a conservatory attached to our home. This exciting addition houses many tropical s for the winter, any own plants and plants from my client’s gardens as well. But even at 13×32 ft., it can’t hold all the plants, and some of the large-growing guys who have found permanent homes there- such as blood leaf  banana ( Musa zebrine)- have hit their head on the 13-ft. ceiling after just one season!  Phormiums usually make the cut to overwinter in the conservatory, although I have good luck with them under lights as well. I brought in various salvias one year, only to fight white-fly on them all winter; I now purchase new salvias for the gardens each spring rather than working to save them over. Some gingers, such as hidden gingers (Curcuma spp.), eventually go dormant but return when given higher temperatures and more light. Butterfly gingers (Hedychium spp.) are also brought in. These could be given just enough water in pots to maintain leaves ( some of their old leaves die off and can be cut back once new foliage has emerged), or they could be stored in the method I am about to describe.

Annual, Tropical and tender bulbs - Phormiums
Annual, Tropical and tender bulbs – Phormiums

We have had good luck overwintering most tropical s or tender bulbs (remember, they can also be corms, tubers, or rhizomes)- cannas, elephant’s ear, dahlias, gladioli, hymenocallis, bananas- with a simple technique that most people could follow. We don’t have time to try a variety of storage media- vermiculite for some, moist peat or sawdust for others, and so on (one year I just threw canna tubers with old apple baskets and left them in the dark). For best results with these bulbs, we simply wait until after several frosts( the plants are not always completely blackened), cut the stems to 4-6 in. above the ground, dig the plants, be sure every-thing is tagged, let them dry on our screened porch with a ceiling fan for about one week, and then shake excess soil off the roots. Waiting for several frosts may be too late in our climate, especially for glads, which we dig as early as late September if they appear to be going dormant. Some people like to use an anti- desiccant before storing the bulbs to reduce moisture loss and fungus. When completely dry, the roots are wrapped in newspaper. We put these little packages into unsealed black plastic garbage bags, to block the light; they are stored on shelves in a lighted room in our basement that remains at 60-650 F.

You often see the clusive storage temperature recommendation of 35-500 F – and frost-free, of course. I tried for years to find such a location at our home. Garages are often recommended, but this can spell death for most bulbs as temperatures can drop into the 20 s in garages, as I recorded with a minimum-maximum thermometer one winter (losses were monumental that year). And most modern or even fairly modern homes don’t have root cellars.

In mid-late March we pot the bulbs and grow them on in the conservatory as well as on heat mats under lights. Most benefit from bottom heat to get started. Acclimating them before putting them back into the garden is essential, or all the lush upper leaves will be scorched (bottom leaves are sometimes spared, and plants will usually re-break from lower on the stems). Put plants out in dense shade for a few days and then move them into slightly brighter light; finally, give them several hours daily of early or very late sun. Move them back into the garden on a cloudy day.

Annual, Tropical and tender bulbs - Cardoon
Annual, Tropical and tender bulbs – Cardoon

In the garden, we have had success overwintering tender plants such as cardoon ( Cynara cardunculus) by folding the leaves around the crown and tucking the plant under a bell- shaped glass cloche. Evergreen boughs keep it from heating up on sunny days.

With the variety and diversity of plant material involved, maintaining a mixed border is never dull! The degree of care a garden requires depends on many different factors. As you can see from our discussion here, the types of plants selected will greatly affect the type and amount of care required. But the efforts put forth to maintain a well- designed, diverse mixed border are definitely repaid, in numerous ways, to the gardener and all who experience it.

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