All about Bulbs

We have had a very dry autumn. The soil is still relatively warm and the small amount of rain has not penetrated deep into the soil. Some bulbs are confused. Narcissus that usually flower in late winter are blooming now. Narcissus 'Grande Primo Citronaire' and Narcissus 'Nylon', which usually flower in late July, are coming into flower at the moment. They are of North African origin and dry conditions encourage their flowering. It is their survival mechanism. This Cyclamen hederifolium has silver leaves and is flowering a month later than usual.

Grande Primo Citronaire, Nylon, Cyclamen hederifolium

The later, mid spring, bulbs are close to breaking the surface. When the soil cools they will ease growth until normal season however to get strong flowers they need heaps of water now. We are flood irrigating our special patches every fourth day. We will stop irrigating when the soil warms up as warmth plus moisture equals fungal growth and lost bulbs.

Nitrogen fertiliser also encourages the fungal growth. All watering should stop about when show weekend would normally occur. Bulbous plants should be fed a mix that is high in potash. This encourages flowering and gives stronger flowers. Fertilise in mid August and again in early October.
And don't forget that you can love your potted cyclamen to death. Give them a last water today and when flowering is finished move them to a dry spot. Bring them back into your kitchen in February, water and feed them and enjoy their flowers through next Autumn.

David Adams