Timely Hints About Bulbs

by J. Thorpe


SPRING flowering bulbs in-doors, such as the Dutch Hyacinths, Tulips and the many varieties of Narcissus, should now be coming rapidly into bloom. Some care is required to get well developed specimens. When first brought in from cold frames or wherever they have been stored to make roots, do not expose them either to direct sunlight or excessive heat.

A temperature of not more than fifty-five degrees at night is warm enough for the first ten days, and afterwards, if they show signs of vigorous growth and are required for any particular occasion, they may be kept ten degrees warmer. It is more important that they be not exposed to too much light than to too much heat.

Half the short stemmed Tulips, dumpy Hyacinths and blind Narcissus we see in the green-houses and windows of amateurs are the result of excessive light when first brought into warm quarters. Where it is not possible to shade bulbs without interfering with other plants a simple and effective plan is to make funnels of paper large enough to stand inside each pot and six inches high. These may be left on the pots night and day from the time the plants are brought in until the flower spike has grown above the foliage; indeed, some of the very finest Hyacinths cannot be had in perfection without some such treatment. Bulbous plants should never suffer for water when growing rapidly, yet on the other hand, they are easily ruined if allowed to become sodden.

When in flower a rather dry and cool temperature will preserve them the longest.

Of bulbs which flower in the summer and fall, Gloxinias and tuberous rooted Begonias are great favorites and easily managed. For early summer a few of each should be started at once—using sandy, friable soil. Six-inch pots, well drained, are large enough for the very largest bulbs, while for smaller even three-inch pots will answer. In a green-house there is no difficulty in finding just the place to start them. It must be snug, rather shady and not too warm. They can be well cared for, however, in a hot-bed or even a window, but some experience is necessary to make a success.

Lilies, in pots, whether L. candidum or L. longiflorum that are desired to be in flower by Easter, should now receive every attention—their condition should be that the flower buds can be easily felt in the leaf heads. A temperature of fifty-five to sixty-five at night should be maintained, giving abundance of air on bright sunny days to keep them stocky. Green fly is very troublesome at this stage, and nothing is more certain to destroy this pest than to dip the plants in tobacco water which, to be effective, should be the color of strong tea. Occasional waterings of weak liquid manure will be of considerable help if the pots are full of roots.