My baby plants have been finally put to sleep, so I continue my ‘petit inventory’ series with some bulbs, tubers and rhizomatous species. Most people are often shy to start such species from seeds; in a way it is understandable because it takes 2-4+ years for these plants to start flowering. On the other hand, it is the only way to enjoy species that would be impossible to buy (at least in Canada), or if available, they would come at a high price.
For example, where could I find to buy Eremurus tianschanicus? Or Allium cupuliferum for that matter? Germinating and obtaining seedlings is often not a problem, but managing to grow them well until flowering stage is another story.
I will highlight here the repotting process of young bulbs/tubers which, if neglected, can detrimentally affect further growth. Because the sowing is done quite dense and seedlings put up few leaves during the growing season, it is easy to underestimate what’s happening underground with these species – the ‘storing’ organs are growing and become overcrowded. The repotting can be done in late fall or early spring before they start growing.
There is no rocket science about this – after the plants have gone dormant, tip off the pots, see what you find inside ;) and then repot in a good potting mix (emphasize on good drainage). Depending on how many bulbs/tubers you got, the space you have available and size of the pots, repot 1-3 bulbs/pot (or even more).
Regarding Allium, I followed the advice of Ian Young (aka The Bulb Despot) which has been growing and writing about bulbs since ‘forever’ ;) I advise everyone to read his Bulb Logs for further info. There is even an Index now, so one can easily look for a specific subject; with winter coming and more time available, I will review a few of them myself.
The very short summary for bulbs is: replant them at the same depth were found in the seedlings pot.
In the case of A. cupuliferum, the little bulbs were right at the bottom of a 10 inch pot, so down they went into a bigger/taller pot. I know it seems I planted too deep, but if that’s how they liked it, who am I to argue?
I am also new at growing Eremurus from seeds. After I extracted from their pot the long ‘carrot-like’ tubers you see in the picture, I wondered about them for a while :), took pictures (I am not wearing gloves when handling such delicate ‘subjects’, they only serve as background) and then I repotted all of them in a large pot with the growing point just below the potting mix/topped with small river stone (I used only one big pot because I need to keep my pots numbers in check ;(
Another newly grown species from seeds was Scopolia carniolica var. brevifolia. Easy inventory in this case: one 2 years-old little rhizome – shown in the featured image. There was no need to repot last year but now it got a little too ‘fatty’ for its pot :)
I still have a lot to learn about growing such species from seeds, and despite my best intentions, I didn’t get to repot everything (for ex. the Trilliums, Paris); the process will continue coming spring…
Next post – more on growing rhizomatous species from seeds (including Glaucidium, Hydrastis and Podophyllum hexandrum), using the most wonderful and not enough cultivated Jeffersonia diphylla as an example.