Monday, 8 June 2015

Sincere Flowers and Lilies


Have you ever noticed how fallen leaves get skeletonised leaving a tracery of what looks like a lacey leaf?
This looks very artistic, as if someone had taken great care in removing all the living components of the leaf and just left the fine bones or veins.
Not so this next pest the Lily caterpillar.
You won’t get so much a tracery as a complete removal of the chlorophyll layers and sometimes, just a heap of mush.
Let’s find out what this pest is and how to deal with it.with Steve Falcioni general manager

The caterpillars are about 5 cm long , generally a black with black, and golden yellow and white stripes. It has dots on the front end and back end of the caterpillar.
This caterpillar attacks plants from the Lily family, and includes cliveas, and belladonna lilies.
The caterpillars pretty much chew threw all the layers of the leaf leaving a skeletal mushy remains.
The leaf will then be a dried and pale looking.
If this attack doesn't get down to the roots, or the bulb of the lily, you can cut the plants back to just below the damage, and they may spring back.
Some people spend time picking the caterpillars out of their garden, but this is somewhat inefficient because you could pick 20 caterpillars out of your plants one day and the next day, go out there and find 20 more.
If all else fails, you could use Dipel which contains Bacillus thuringiensis, a naturally occurring soil bacteria that you can put in your garden.
This is non-toxic to humans and animals, but the caterpillars will either stay away or die.
Then there’s the longer lasting product eCo Neem which coAlso organic.
If you have any questions about caterpillars in your garden, why not write in to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Well it’s TIME FOR VEGETABLE HERO-  planting bulbs
So what is a bulb?
A bulb, in botany, is something that’s in the resting stage of certain plants.
Usually a bulb is made up of a relatively large underground bud with fleshy overlapping leaves that come up from a short stem.
Tunicate bulb
A bulb’s fleshy leaves are its food reserves that let the plant to lie dormant when water is unavailable (during winter or drought) and start growing when conditions are more favourable.
You’re probably familiar with onion, garlic, and brown or golden shallots as the most common vegetable bulbs.
There are two main types of bulbs.
The onion type, has a thin papery covering or tunic, protecting its fleshy leaves.
Funnily enough, these are called tunicate bulbs.
The other type, the scaly bulb, as seen in true lilies, has storage leaves that are unprotected by any papery covering.
Lily bulb
These bulbs dry out faster and are more easily bruised.
All true bulbs have a few things in common such as:
-being more or less rounded, sort of ball-like, and narrow to a point on the top.
Leaves and flower stems appear from this point.
With or without a tunic, true bulbs have a flat part, called a basal plate, at the bottom. That’s where roots grow and also where shoots and scales are attached.
True bulbs have new bulbs, called offsets, which form from the basal plate. When they get big enough, these offsets, or daughter bulbs, produce flowers on their own.
And true bulbs are made up of rings, called scales, which are modified leaves that store food.
If you cut apart a true bulb, like an onion or hyacinth at the right time of year, you’ll find a miniature plant inside, just waiting to begin growing.
Think of onions that have been stored too long, when you cut them open, they have a green shoot inside ready to grow a new plant.
Bulbs can vary in size from insignificant pea-sized ones
to those of large crinums (crinum lilies.)
Did you know that gladioli and crocus aren’t true bulbs, but they’re really corms?
Corms still store food, but if you cut them open, they won’t have any overlapping leaves.
Also when a corm finishes flowering, the corm dries up and a new one grows on top of the old one.
If you’re replanting corms, you usually should remove the old dried up corm  first.
Bulbs are divided into two categories based on when they either flower or produce the edible vegetable.
Spring flowering bulbs are hardy bulbs because they survive cold winter conditions.
In fact, they need exposure to cold temperatures in order to flower properly. Summer-flowering bulbs, including dahlias, begonias and gladiolus, are planted in the spring.
They are tender and don’t survive extreme cold winter conditions.
When  and how to plant bulbs
Spring-flowering bulbs and vegetable bulbs such as daffodils, tulips, garlic, and shallots, are planted in autumn, in most districts.
This allows both the weather and the soil to cool.
For cooler districts though , shallot bulbs for example, are best planted in winter.
Haemanthus coccineus
Spring flowering bulbs are easy to grow and most bulbs can be planted in the same way so that once you understand the basics you can easily grow almost any bulbs.
Bulb planting Depth & Spacing:
Most bulbs are planted twice as deep as the bulb is high/tall and the same distance apart.
The pointed end of the bulb should be upwards.
Anemone & Ranunculi are the only exceptions where the points or claws are pointing downwards.
If you’re not sure which way to plant your bulb can always plant your bulb on it's side and it will always grow upwards!
Best Soil type for growing bulbs:
Most Spring flowering bulbs are best planted in a freely draining soil.
You won’t find any bulbs that like to be planted in heavy clay I’m afraid.
You can raise or mound up the garden beds to improve drainage, otherwise plant and grow your bulbs in pots if your soil is soggy.
Where to plant your bulbs
Most bulbs grow best in full sun to light shade.
If you plant your bulbs in too much shade, you’ll get leggy, taller and softer stems.
In warmer climates, most bulbs tolerate being planted in a bit more shade.
Most Spring bulbs like their soil kept moist when they’re actively growing, which is usually from late Winter to early Summer.
They also like to be kept reasonably dry when they’re dormant.
Spring flowering daffodils
Only start watering when green shoots appear and stop when the leaves start to yellow after flowering.
If your district gets high Summer rainfalls, dig the bulbs up in and store them in a dry spot otherwise they’ll probably rot off.
If they’re in a pot, put the pot on its side under a tree somewhere out of the way, and especially away from naughty chooks that like to jump in there and have a great old dig around.
As a general rule of thumb, top dress all bulbs in Autumn and water this in.
Using a specialty bulb fertiliser or an organic fertiliser is fine.
For flowering bulbs, you’ll get a better second year if you add some fertiliser  straight after flowering as this is when the bulb is taking in nutrients for next year's flowers.
Of course with garlic and shallots, you’re going to eat them aren’t you.
After flowering care:
As mentioned, when the bulbs have finished flowering, it's important that you keep on watering and feeding the leaves since they’re generating the energy the bulb needs to produce next year's flowers.
Digging and storing your spring flower bulbs:
Don’t be in too much of a hurry to dig up and store those bulbs.
Also yes, the leaves can look untidy for a while as they die down, but if you cut them off you’re depriving the bulb of nutrients that it needs to store for next season’s flowering.
Let the leaves die down properly before digging up your bulbs.
Loosen the soil with a fork and gently pull up the bulbs by their stems.
Allow the bulbs to dry somewhere cool (not in full sun).
 Once dry, brush off any excess dirt and remove old flower stalks.
Try to leave the bulbs 'skin' or tunic intact as this helps protect the bulbs.
Store the bulbs somewhere cool (less than 25oC), dry and airy until you replant the following Autumn.
To refrigerate or not to refrigerate?
Tulip bulbs are the only bulbs which require 4-8 weeks in the crisper of the fridge before planting. DO NOT FREEZE THEM.
An easy way to remember is to put your tulip bulbs in the fridge around April fool's day, then plant your bulbs around Mother's day.
Guide lines for planting your Spring flower bulbs in pots:
Keep the bulbs away from the outer edges of the pot which get very hot.
Water regularly to keep soil slightly moist.
TIP: plant the bulbs in the garden the following year since most won't flower consecutive years in pots.
Seeds from bulbs?
Did you know that when pollinated, most bulb flowers will produce seeds, and you can use them to grow new plants?
So why don't you see daffodil or tulip seeds at the garden centre?
Because it takes at least 5 years, and sometimes longer, for seedlings to mature and produce flowers.
Who wants to wait that long?


with garden designer Lesley Simpson
This series is all about colour in the garden.
Colour schemes affect mood.

Why the fuss about any particular colour?
Because colour has an effect on, style, theme, texture and even on mood.
You should really consider your space and what time of day you use it.
Why not can start off with your favourite colour to use in the garden, but then what goes with that colour?
Let’s find out more..

There can be a huge range of shades of the one colour which if you’re not careful, can make your colour scheme not exactly work.
For example, there’s yellows that can range from being a golden yellow right through to an almost apricot colour and to a bright yellow.

If you have any questions about colours in the garden, why not write in or ask for a fact sheet.
All information will be posted on the website


with Jeremy Critchley owner
and Karen Smith editor of hort journal

You would have been seeing Cyclamen almost everywhere since about mid-autumn.

Some, usually the bigger ones, have even got a light perfume, while others just have their outstanding colour and form with which to dazzle you.
Did you know that this next plant, the cyclamen, along with the columbine or grannys bonnet, was one of the flowers of choice for Leonardo Da Vinci at the beginning of the 16th century?
He liked them so much that he covered the margins of his manuscripts with drawings of them.
My sister tells me that she has been throwing out her Cyclamen when it dies down after flowering. Is this you?
You know you should be hanging onto the tuber so your Cyclamen can re-flower for you in the following year.
Let’s find out more

The Cyclamen lifecycle is one of shooting up leaves at the beginning of autumn. That's when you take them from the shady position in the garden and put your potted cyclamen somewhere where it receives dappled sunlight.
At this time give it some fertiliser of any kind.
Water your cyclamen when the soil in the pot feels dry to the touch.
Too much water will cause leaves to yellow and the tuber to be susceptible to rotting.
After your cyclamen has finished flowering and the leaves have died down, put the pot somewhere where it won't get too much rain. Even turn the pot on it's side. Now it's ready for the dormant stage before restarting the lifecycle next Autumn.

You might not be aware that in the language of love, giving someone a cyclamen expresses sincere feelings and why not? With flowers looking like butterflies.
Thanks to its tuber, cyclamen cope with neglect and other tough conditions.
The tuber, which is in fact a swollen root won’t ever have corms or bulb offsets, however, as in the case with the  potato (which is a similar organism), the tuber can be divided provided each portion has both a growth eye and part of the rooting region of the tuber..

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