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Posted at: Feb 10, 2018, 1:47 AM; last updated: Feb 10, 2018, 1:47 AM (IST)GREEN HOUSE

Brilliance of bulbs

Brilliance of bulbs

Amarjeet  Batth

Bulbous plants have a unique character — even when one thinks that these are no longer existing they survive in dormant stage  and as growing conditions become favourable the leaves sprout and one fine morning a sparkling flower appears to add colour to your garden. In this region, February onwards it’s the time to enjoy the glory of these bulbous delights.  If you want to enjoy these “silent” beauties then it is time to apprise yourself with some of these plants and their maintenance routine:  

Haemanthus multiflorus 

Haemanthus multiflorus (football lily) with its peculiar round shape is also known as powder puff or globe lily. The leaves are smooth and dark green and fresh ones appear after flowering. It is planted in February-March in pots and in garden beds. This plant blooms only once a year and the flowers last for 10-15 days. 

Use leaf mould manure at the time of sowing which gives best results and thereafter it does well even without any fertiliser dose. The dormant bulbs should not be buried too deep in soil. Keep the soil moist and do not over water which lead to rotting of bulbs. 

A bright and sunny location with indirect light is the best for getting good blooms. This plant, however, needs to be protected in winters as it can’t withstand frost. It should be noted that football lilies are deciduous and not evergreen, so these should be allowed to rest. Multiplication is by division of bulb and rarely with seeds.

Tuberose 

Tuberose or  (rajni gandha) bulbs are also planted in February-March and blooming commences in rainy season and continues till October. This plant does well in pots (4 bulbs in 12” pot), containers or in large soil beds for a mass effect. It requires a full sunny location, rich and well-drained soil. Tuberose is a heavy feeder, therefore, add farm yard manure, potassium and phosphorous in the soil mixture. A dose of urea should be adminitered after one  and two months of planting and the third dose should be given when  the plant starts flowering. The bulbs are planted at a depth two inches below soil and are spaced approximately eight to ten inches apart. 

Tuberose needs moisture but no water logging as overwatering can cause fungal disease. Regular deweeding is highly beneficial and hoeing increases aeration and loosens the soil which helps the bulbs to increase in size. Once sown, the bulbs are not harvested for three years so as to allow these to grow and multiply.

Amaryllis 

Amaryllis requires direct full sunlight and a warm place to grow. The flowers appear in striped and multi-coloured varieties and in shades of red, white, pink, salmon and orange. 

Plant the bulbs in a nutritious rich medium in pot or ground keeping the bulb up to the neck of the soil, thereafter press the soil down to firmly secure the bulb in soil. Subsequently keep the soil moist but do not over water until the stem appears. As the plant grows buds and leaves appear, irrigate them more frequently. 

The bulbs will flower in about two months. Once the blooming time is over, cut the spent flowers from the stem and when the stem starts to sag and the leaves turn yellow, cut the leaves back to about two inches from the top of the bulb and remove the bulb from the soil. Clean the bulbs and place in a cool dark place. Remember not to keep these bulbs in a refrigerator. Store the bulbs for a minimum of six weeks before replanting. Plant the bulbs eight weeks before the desired bloom.

Crinum asiaticum 

Crinum asiaticum (spider lily) is a decorative plant admired for its foliage as well its floral beauty. It makes wonderful specimen and very attractive pool plant. Crinum gives best results when sown in sunny location in a well-drained soil. It thrives well in normal temperatures, but is sensitive to extreme cold and dry weather.  The leaves are thin and long with a silky feel and some varieties have wavy edges. 

Its bulbs are large and roundish, 12-16 inches in length with a long tapering neck. A stalk of flowers blooms for weeks, however, individual flowers last only for a few days. The plant flowers in groups of 6-10, curving at the edges, some bell-shaped, some curved and some spidery looking. As new growth starts, cut off the old leaves and wait for the plant to start growing again. It’s then the time for repotting. Always plant the large bulb in a large pot and never completely bury bulbs but leave part of the bulb above the soil.

Hemerocallis

Hemerocallis blooms last only for a day therefore  it is known as a daylily. It is grown for different uses in the garden landscape as perennial borders and is the perfect plant for mass plantings along a fence or walkways. 

To enjoy the blooms throughout the summer mix the early to late flowering cultivars and plant according to the variation of height, colour and flower shapes in order to make the garden interesting. Daylilies flower best in full sunshine, in moist and well-drained soil. They do require only light application of fertilisers in addition to the annual dose of compost. Space these 12 to 18 inches apart. Keep the crown about 1-2 inches below the soil surface. As a routine activity, overcrowding clumps should be divided after three to five years  as these reduce flowering by that time. Also remove brown dry stems and stalks of spent flowers for a tidy and new look. Fresh bloom can be caused by removing seed pods. It is interesting to know that daylilies are edible.

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