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Category: Bulbs Tubers and Corms

Plants that grow from underground storage devises

Gloxinia as Houseplant Gifts

Gloxinia as Houseplant Gifts

Can you grow too much of a good thing? Yes I think so. There are only so many plants you can accommodate in the garden, house or even through life. So as part of enjoying the growing aspect of gardening I have started to deliberately grow for giving plants away in this case Gloxinia.

Selecting the Gift

  • A plant in flower is far more attractive than one the recipient has to grow-on or wait to see how it looks.
  • A plant that still has lots of buds to open or develop will extend the pleasure. (See the latent buds on the next photo).
  • Presenting the present in an appropriate way is worth a bit of effort. I have been buying a range of bowls and plant pot holders from charity shops to act as containers. In many cases I can colour co-ordinate to match container and plant. Artistically minded may want to add a label or bespoke wrapping.
  • Not everyone believes the Gloxinia I am giving are houseplants so I should consider providing a bit more information.

Simple Advice For Gifted Gloxinia

  • Gloxinia like plenty of bright light without direct burning sun.
  • Turn the pot round so the plant and flowers develop evenly. They love to bend towards the light.
  • Water from the bottom when the compost is dry and the leaves are floppy. Err on the side of too little rather than too much water.
  • After flowering which may last 6-8 weeks, allow the plant to rest and die back.
  • Keep the dry tuber until next spring if you want to try to regrow your gift.

Tips on Growing Gloxinia

Tubers or corms may be found under the name Sinningia speciosa or Gloxinia and are part of the Gesneriaceae family that includes African Violets. They have been grown as florists gloxinia since being discovered in Brazil in 1815.

    • Plant shallowly in good compost with the buds facing upwards, this is usually the concave side like begonias.
    • Water the compost with warm water from the bottom to stop the tuber rotting and keep the atmosphere humid without getting the leaves or flowers wet or they will be stained with brown blotches.
    •  If the furry leaves elongate it is a sign they need more light.
    • Do not expose to direct mid-day sun as the leaves are liable to become scorched.
    • Gloxinia  like a temperature above 60º when in growth.
    • Plastic pots are fine but I add some grit or perlite to help avoid water logging.
    • Feed with half strength liquid fertiliser


Grow Winter Aconite = Eranthis

Grow Winter Aconite = Eranthis


Winter Aconite

  • One of the earliest bulbs to bloom. They can be planted 2″ deep in August.
  • They look particularly good in masses.
  • They  grow, flower and seed when light penetrates the bare branches of the trees above them. So they grow well in semi shade.
  • Eranthis dry out very easily so keep moist.
  •  Winter Aconites dislike being moved and are best left to their own devices.
  • Eranthis are part of the buttercup family.

March 2 Winter Aconites

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Chionodoxa Bulbs to Plant in August

Chionodoxa Bulbs to Plant in August


  • Chionodoxa or Glory of the snow are hardy, early flowering bulbs to plant before the end of August.The bulbs appreciate a bit of warmth to get going.
  • Chionodoxa grow 6-8″ high and thrive in ordinary soil .
  • Plant 2-3″ deep in rockeries or borders.
  • Alternatively plant closely in a pot of loam. Keep in a cold frame until growth is visible the take into a greenhouse or windowsill for a good display of bright blue flowers.
  • Water regularly after the emerging of foliage until the leaves die.

ChindoxiaFor the specialist there are a dozen different varieties to investigate and grow. Potentially the basis of a fine collection. See more detail and a list of species here

Chionodoxa need water in the spring so if the ground is dry

Chionodoxa forbesii 雪光花

Buying and Planting Your Tulips

Buying and Planting Your Tulips

Tulip Buying & Planting Tips

  • Marketing of bulbs starts earlier and earlier and this July saw some multiple chains offering pre-packed bulbs for sale. It is all very well getting ahead of the game so you get the varieties you want.
  • I belatedly have come to the conclusion that you get a better result and thus value for money from a specialist grower or retailer. Choice of variety, size and bulb condition are generally better as they have a reputation to protect.
  • Beware how you store bulbs as they can dry out (but they will also dry out in store if left hanging on one of those POS units.) If you store tulips in humid conditions they may sprout early or get mildew.
  • Normally I try and plant my Tulips by the end of December but this year I am a bit late. Still Tulips have a great capacity to catch up before April when they flower.
  • I have not been successful planting tulips in pots but I shall keep trying. Perhaps deeper in long toms is the answer; I will let you know.


Varieties Planted

  • Monte Carlo a double yellow only 12 ” tall. They have an AGM and are reputed to be fragrant.
  • Apricot Parrot has feathered bicoloured petals. There is a bit of green on the outer petals with red and apricot shades on the inner petals. These Tulips are about 22″ tall
  • Another lower growing Tulip Greigii called Queen Ingrid at 14″ caught my eye with red petals edged in white
  • Bulbs varied in size from 10-13cm. I have planted most in pots that I can bury in the ground where there is a gap and take up quickly after flowering.
Cyclamen that Flower in Winter

Cyclamen that Flower in Winter

The late season flowering of Cyclamen is just one of the reasons to grow these useful flowers. There are many species of Cyclamen and below is a special selection for Autumn and Winter flowering.

C. coum is widely grown in the United Kingdom and there are many colours and leaf forms. Whites and pink flowers predominate but bright red varieties are available.

C.libanoticum is often grown in pots to flower January – April. It can withstand severe cold but dislikes wet soil.

C. persicum is tender and forms the stock for many florists Cyclamen. The flowers are generally held high above the leaves.

C. hederifolium flowers pink a bit earlier than some varieties. Leaves appear after flowering. Plants are best sited under shade as provided by a deciduous tree. The underside of the leaves are red coloured.

Other winter flowering species include C. pseudibericum and C. trochopteranthum a horizontal growing variety.

For more information on the Cyclamen species read any Guide by Chris Grey-Wilson

Storage Rot of Tubers and Bulbs

Storage Rot of Tubers and Bulbs

Bulbs that are stored over winter can be susceptible to rot and fungus. To avoid problems check them regularly and remove and destroy any that are effected.

Ornamental bulbs, tubers and corms that may be affected include begonias, gladioli, tulips and dahlias. Edible crops that can be affected include potatoes, onions and garlic. You will know about rot when you smell some of these .

Onion Rots Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs

Types of Bulb Rot

  • Damp conditions help grey  botrytis or blue/green penicillium fungal rots.
  • Damaged items allow bacteria to enter the bulb and grow.
  • Post-harvest rots are also caused by fungi and bacteria from the soil or from infections in rotting leaves prior to harvesting.
  • Species specific fungal attacks can cause gladioli core rot, tulip fire, onion neck rot and others.

Storage Tips

  • Harvest carefully, damaged goods rot quickest.
  • Clean off soil and  dry off excess moisture. I then wrap some bulbs in newspaper.
  • Look for signs of black seed-like sclerotia of botrytis.
  • Discard any with signs of soft soggy tissue.
  • Store in dry cool conditions on clean storage trays. Leave space so bulbs do not touch and spread any disease.
  • Dust with a sulphur based inhibitor.

Sack rot and cart it off but not to your compost heap!

Camassia Flowers and Food

Camassia Flowers and Food

Some Camassia species were an important food staple for Native Americans and settlers in parts of North American

  • Camassia quamash or wild hyacinth will naturalise in grass and is happy in moist ground.
  • These bulbs have a reputation of being tough and hardy and thrive in less than perfect soils.
  • Camassia leichtlinii is a spring flowering bulb with spires of creamy-white flowers although the more normal powder blue varieties are more often planted.
  • Camassia prefer to grow undisturbed and are not ideal for containers.
  • Flowers open in spring and attract bees for their nectar.

Death Camases are liliaceous, perennial herbs and are not edible.


Scilla or Squill Should Look Like This?

Scilla or Squill Should Look Like This?

After the ‘Lord Mayors Parade’ gardeners get the manure. After the snow and sometimes during the snow gardeners get the Glory of the Snow or at least the glory of Scilla.
To have a display that looks like a professional start 3 years ago.

To have a garden that looks like Kew start 30+ years ago.

Glory of the snow

I like to grow bulbs in the garden but am often put to shame by other displays. I sometimes wonder ‘Why Don’t My Scilla Look Like This?’ but then realise that comparing your garden to Kew garden or international locations means you are on a hiding to nothing.

Scilla auf dem Friedhof

Tips to Look Like This

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Growing Bulbs in Grass

Growing Bulbs in Grass

Naturalising means bulbs growing and seeding as they would in the wild; i.e. “in nature”. In some gardens this means growing bulbs in grass instead of borders.
To naturalize bulbs they need to be planted where they can remain undisturbed without the need for the foliage to be prematurely removed. Leaves need to die back for about six weeks after the flowers have faded.

Growing  Bulbs in Grass

  • Crocus will thrive for years if planted in grass with a dry or fast draining soil. If the lawn is lush and gets lots of high nitrogen fertilizer it will stunt the flowering process of the bulbs. You’ll get lots of foliage but no flowers.
  • Plant in groups or clusters so you can mow the other area.
  • You need to be patient as a bulb seedling will take 5-7 years before it has built up reserves to flower. Above all do not deadhead the flowers so they can seed a couple of months after flowering.
  • Plant species bulbs rather than showy doubles.

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Sparkling Summer Bulbs

Sparkling Summer Bulbs

Reliable flowering can be expected from summer bulbs and tubers.
Early Summer Flowering
Alliums flower May-July, I like those that look like a burst of stars
Anemone start in April with the woodland varieties then come the blousy De Caen and larger corm types through summer

Dutch Iris look good for a short while in midsummer but I find I get poor results in containers.

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