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Editor's Note: This feature is written by Master Gardener Andrea Fuller. Readers may direct questions to her at this office.
Bulbs can be a wonderful addition to your garden, but not all of the bulbs you remember from your northern home do well in Central Florida. Still, there is quite a variety from which to choose.
For our purposes, let's agree that we call any bulbous plant a bulb. No matter that it may really be termed a corm, tuber or rhizome. The horticultural conditions are generally the same for all of the bulbs.
They like to grow in a place that has been enriched with organic material, and most like afternoon shade from the extreme heat and a site that is well drained.
Be selective in choosing your bulbs. They should be firm, a good size for the variety and not moldy.
Soak the bulbs in water at planting time. I also do this with some seeds to prime them and to give them a head start. Plant the bulbs according to directions or 2 to 3 inches deep, except for amaryllis and crinum, which like to be planted to half their bulb height.
Mulch with 2 or 3 inches of a non-compacting mulch and feed four to six weeks after they come up. Don't allow seeds to form after bloom. Pinch off faded flowers and leave the stem to help produce food for the bulb. Generally fall or spring are the best times for planting for the growing season.
Alphabetically we have agapanthus, also known as Lily of the Nile, amaryllis, Amazon or Eucharist lily, Aztec lily, blood lily, caladium, calla, canna, crinum, dahlia, day lily, elephant ears, gladiolus, gloriosa lily, hurricane lily and Kaffir lily.
Also, Easter, Formosan, Madonna, regal, speciosum and gold-banded lillies can be grown. Florida has one native species, Catesby, or pine lily, which is commonly seen in moist flatwoods in August and September.
Continuing on we have Marica, often called walking iris, Narcissus, moraea, shell lily (shell ginger), society garlic, spider lily, tritonia, tuberose, Watsonia and zephyr lily.
Of these, amaryllis and Amazon lily like to be moist and enjoy crowded roots. Blood lily and Kaffir lily like crowded roots and canna, crinum, elephant ears and tuberose like moist conditions.
It is recommended to dig up caladiums, dahlias and glads after their foliage has started to dry. You may do this if you choose. I tend to leave things alone. My caladiums, which are enjoying their third year in the same spot, have multiplied and look beautiful.
If you choose to dig your bulbs, store them in a dry, well-ventilated, protected place for a few days. Then remove any dried leaves and roots and place in a
single layer in trays and store. I've also put them in a paper bag and held them until planting time. To reduce the chance of insect and disease damage, or if you notice mold forming, a combination of fungicide and insecticide dust may be applied.
Underground problems could be fungi caused by too-wet conditions, or rodents and insects could be damaging the bulbs. On the foliage look for aphids, spider mites, mealybugs or thrips. Chlorosis or yellowing of foliage may be caused by lack of nitrogen, iron, zinc, magnesium or manganese. Or chlorosis like symptoms could be caused by roots damaged by nematodes, poor aeration or disease.
Actually, bulbs are very easy to grow and can give the gardener many years of satisfaction and beauty. The Citrus County Extension Service can offer more specific information on bulbs. Call them at 726-2141 or contact me through this newspaper.
So until next time _ happy gardening.