Diseases of garden plants
Flowers - Annuals
Flowers - Perennials
Native Plant gardening
|At our family cemetery there are several ghost lily plants. They keep multiplying year after year. Our family wants to kill them so that the lilies will not grow there. Do you know what we can use to kill these plants? Janet, Sissonville|
|Hi, Janet: Common names of plants can be used loosely and sometimes these names can be used when referring to different plants altogether, so I first want to make sure that we are thinking about the same plant. Lycoris squamigera, also known as surprise lily, resurrection lily, and/or ghost lily, is a summer flowering bulb that belongs to the amaryllis family. The flower is pale pink in color and the stem is naked, meaning it has no foliage at this time. These bulbs are an old-fashioned favorite that are considered very low maintenance. They can multiply quickly and tolerate most growing conditions, which is likely why there are so happy in your family cemetery. Let me know if this does not sound like the lily you are referring to. Hopefully we are on the same page. As far as getting rid of them, the best solution is to dig them up. Spraying and other methods are typically not effective on bulbs. You may find that someone will be happy to do the work for you! Contact your County Master Gardener program or your County Extension Service. I am certain there are gardeners in your area that would be happy to dig them for you and transplant them into their garden. I hope this is helpful.|
|Can a canna lily be brought inside and wintered over in a pot like a calla lily? Katrina, Mannville, AB Canada|
|Hi Katrina: Bulbs and rhizomes can either be considered hardy or tender depending on where you are gardening. Cannas are hardy in zones 8-11. The hardy bulbs can be planted and will grow year after year, but the tender ones like your cannas need to be dug up and stored indoors. In northern climates, like where you are gardening, these plants are considered tropical and you have two options in terms of over-wintering them. You can either grow them in containers and bring the entire container indoors for the winter months, or you can cut back the foliage, dig up the rhizomes, shake off the soil, allow them to dry for a few days in a shaded space with good air circulation, and then place them in a brown paper bag. They can be stored in any area that is dark and dry with average to cool temperatures. Next spring, after the frost-free date for your area passes, you can take the cannas back outside and pot them up. It will take a few weeks before you see any growth but this process is well worth it by the middle of the summer.|
|Do I need to bring my elephant ear bulbs indoors for the winter? It has been really great this year and I don't want to lose it. Donnie, Manchester|
|Hello, Donnie: Here in Kentucky, we have to bring our elephant ears inside to protect them from our winter weather. They are very easy to over-winter and well worth the effort. Elephant ears can be stored indoors during the winter months and then planted back in the garden or in a container next spring. Before or just after the first hard freeze, cut back the foliage of your bulb and dig it up from the soil, being careful not to damage the actual bulb. Shake off any excess soil and place it in a paper bag for storage. Wear gloves when you dig up your plant because the tuber/roots can cause skin irritation for some gardeners. If the bulb or roots have any moisture to them, lay them out to dry before storing them. They should be kept in a cool, dark space such as a closet or a dry basement. These tuberous bulbs should not be exposed to freezing temperatures or moisture during this time. They can be planted again directly outdoors after May 10 to enjoy for another season.
|Does Preen harm lily bulbs? I have heard that it is not good for narcissus. How else can I keep weeds from invading my lily beds? Lewis, Aylett|
|Hello, Lewis in Virginia: Preen makes a lot of different products, but all of them are safe to use around bulbs as long as the bulbs are buried 3-4 inches deep in the soil. Preen weed preventer can be applied on top of the soil of newly planted bulbs and any time before the foliage emerges, but after the new growth appears in the spring and as long as the foliage remains, the Preen will have to be carefully applied around your lilies and not on them since it can burn the foliage. Preen organic weed preventer is corn gluten that is a great option if you are looking for something organic to stop weed seeds from germinating. Of course, hand pulling the weeds as soon as you notice them will prevent them from maturing and producing their own seeds. It is impossible to eliminate all weeds from the garden but keeping them under control will help prevent future ones from popping up.
|Easter lilies are coming up in part of my yard: can I replant them now in another part of the yard? Debra, Williamsburg|
|Hi, Debra in Kentucky: Lilium longiflorum are commonly known as Easter lilies or white trumpet lilies. We usually see them in containers, forced into bloom for the Easter season, but in the garden, they are hardy bulbs and mid-summer bloomers. The best time to transplant existing bulbs is just after they have finished blooming and into the early fall before the winter weather arrives. You can move them now, just as the new growth is emerging, but you may jeopardize this season’s bloom. Be careful not to injure the bulb as you lift them from the soil and get them back in the ground as soon as possible. Lilies should be planted in a space where the soil is well-drained and the plant will receive full sun. It is fine for the roots to be shaded but if the lily does not get at least four to six hours of sun, it may not bloom so keep this in mind when you move them. Also remember to leave the foliage alone until it has turned yellow or brown. It may not look great in the garden but it is collecting energy for next year’s bloom. These bulbs benefit from either a water-soluble or a slow-release fertilizer. As with any product, make sure to follow application rates. Too much fertilizer can be worse than not enough.|
|I did not dig up my elephant ears this winter. I noticed that the bulbs are coming out of the ground. Can I cover them with mulch and do you think that they will grow this year? Shirley, Landover|
|Hello, Shirley in Maryland: Elephant ears provide large, tropical looking foliage for any garden. There are several different colocasias and even more alocasias, which are also sometimes referred to as elephant ears; both are considered tropicals for us gardening in cooler climates. They will not tolerate being exposed to freezing temperatures. If you would have mulched before the winter, they may have survived but even then it is unlikely. Given your hardiness zone, I would be extremely surprised if they put on new growth this year. The bulbs may have been planted at the proper depth initially, but since they were in the ground all winter it is likely they have been heaved up from the freezing and thawing of the soil. If you decide to plant another bulb remember that elephant ears can be stored indoors during the winter months and then planted back in the garden or in a container next spring. Before or just after the first hard freeze, cut back the foliage of your bulb and dig it up from the soil, being careful not to damage the actual bulb. Shake off any excess soil and place it in a paper bag for storage. Wear gloves when you dig up your plant because the tuber/roots can cause skin irritation for some gardeners. If the bulb or roots have any moisture to them, lay them out to dry before storing them. They should be kept in a cool, dark space such as a closet or a dry basement. These tuberous bulbs should not be exposed to freezing temperatures or moisture during this time. They can be planted again directly outdoors after the frost-free date for your area passes to enjoy for another season. For now, you can wait to see if your existing bulbs put on any new growth this spring and if not you can always replace it with another viable bulb.|
|I have alocasia sprouts all over my yard and can't get rid of them permanently. I have tried Roundup and other weed killers but no luck. Any suggestions? Ryan, Miami|
|Hi, Ryan in Florida: Alocasia is a very large genus and within this genus there are even more species and cultivars. Commonly known as elephant’s ear, they are grown for their foliage and available in a wide range of sizes. Most are not considered to be aggressive or even hardy in the colder climates, but in warmer frost-free areas the rhizomes (underground stems) of these plants can spread and if not thinned regularly can become a maintenance issue, especially in moist areas. Alocasia macrorrhiza is one that is considered invasive in some regions. For some of the smaller plants it may be fine to let them naturalize in a certain area of the garden, but to have them growing in your lawn is another issue. So, as far as getting rid of them, the job may be daunting and take several seasons depending on the amount of spread and the size of your lawn. Digging out the rhizomes is ideal but may require some serious muscle if the rhizomes have formed a colony under your lawn. If there are just sections here and there, then by all means get out your spade and start removing them. If your lawn is a complete underground blanket of these fibrous rhizomes you may need to go another route. Eliminating the foliage will help in terms of stopping photosynthesis and eventually the roots will not have any stored energy to produce foliage. This is a process and not a sure fire fix. You will still have to be on the lookout for new ones popping up. You can continue to spray the foliage with glyphosate (Roundup or generic brand) and it should eventually help after several applications as long as it is absorbed, but it will also kill the grass that it comes into contact with as well. Sorry, there is no easy answer to your problem and you may never completely eradicate the alocasia, but keeping it under control may be the goal at this point.|
|I have an area in my yard bed where I have a 20x12x12 triangle area that I would like to populate with a series of bulbs that bloom in each month, giving color through the prime outdoor months (Mar.-Oct.). I was thinking of 12 of each bulb. Does this sound like too much in one space? Any resources on finding a good mixture for each blooming period? Rob, Louisville|
|Hi, Rob: I apologize for the delayed response. Autumn is upon us and for gardeners this means it is time to plant bulbs. We typically see spring-blooming bulbs in the garden centers this time of year, but there are summer-blooming bulbs as well. Some of the summer bloomers are tender for us, meaning that they may need to be dug up and stored indoors during the winter months. Allowing bulbs to naturalize in a space is a great way to enjoy reliable color throughout the spring. If I did my math correct you should have approximately 66 square feet to plant. So, 12 of each bulb is certainly not too many. Let's start with the spring-blooming options; they are separated into three categories: early, mid, and late. Crocus, for example, would be an early option, daffodils would be a mid-spring bloomer, and alliums would be considered a late-spring bloomer. Tulips, depending on variety, can be found in all three categories. Summer-blooming bulbs include dahlias, cannas, elephant ears, and gladiolus. Light availability needs to be taken into consideration, more so for the summer bulbs as opposed to the spring bloomers since the larger shade trees would not be leafed out yet in the early spring. As far as planting, each bulb will have different space requirements so numbers will differ depending on the bulb you choose. Before choosing your bulbs you will want to consider how to plant your space. If you want it to look more natural, mass plantings of a single bulb may be the way to go, but triangles don’t typically occur naturally so the formal look may be more your style, planting along the perimeter and working your way in. Van Bloem gardens is a wholesale distributer of bulbs but they have good information in terms of planting options: www.vanbloem.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=bulbs.using#threeseasons
. The Cooperative Extension Service also has a nice publication on planting bulbs in Kentucky: www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/ho/ho80/ho80.htm
|I have an elephant ear plant that is about 3 feet tall. I have a place in FL and would like to take my plant there. My question is, can I cut my plant down for traveling in the car without bending the leaves, which are another 2 feet tall, without killing it? Elena, Coxs Creek|
|Hello, Elena in Kentucky: Elephant ears provide large, tropical looking foliage for any garden. There are several different colocasias and even more alocasias, which are also sometimes referred to as elephant ears. The overall size of these plants depends on which variety you are growing but they are all bulbs. This means that if you need to remove all the foliage for transport purposes, you can do so without fear of losing the plant. The bulb has had plenty of time this growing season to take up and store nutrients needed for next season's growth. In northern climates, where these plants are considered tropical bulbs, we go through this process every fall. You can either grow them in containers and bring the entire container indoors for the winter months or you can cut back the foliage. Dig up the bulb and remove the soil, allow it to dry for a few days in a shaded space with good air circulation, then place it in a brown paper bag. It can be stored in any area that is dark and dry with average to cool temperatures. Next spring you can bring the bulb back out and pot it up. It will take a few weeks before you see any growth but this process is well worth it by the middle of the summer. Since you are moving it to a much warmer climate you might want to try and transport it without removing any of the foliage so you can enjoy it year-round. Before putting it in the moving van you can give it some extra protection by wrapping it in burlap. This is not going to stop it from being damaged but wrapping it tightly will help in terms of width restrictions. Height is what it is so you might have to remove some of the taller foliage, but either way you can be sure the move is not going to kill your plant. Travel safe!|
|I have bulbs that I want to plant. When will it be safe to plant them? Janis, West Yarmouth|
|Hello, Janis in Massachusetts: The answer to your question depends on the kind of bulbs you have. There are some that are hardy and others that are tender. All have their own planting time and specifics in terms of planting depth and location. The bulbs that are sold in garden centers this time of year are best planted after the frost-free date for your area passes. Bulbs that bloom in the spring like crocus, narcissus, and tulips should be planted in the fall. The horticulture agent or Master Gardeners at the Barnstable County Cooperative Extension Service will be able to give you local advice for planting your bulbs. You can visit their Web site at www.capecodextension.org. As a Kentucky gardener our average frost-free date is May 10, but you are much farther north than we are so I would suspect that your average frost-fee date is closer to the end of May. Of course, this can vary from year to year as Mother Nature is not always predictable, so watch the forecast and you may be able to put them out sooner. A general rule when planting bulbs is to plant them twice as deep as the diameter of the actual bulb. They will benefit from an application of Bulb-Tone or any like product at planting time and once per year if they are hardy bulbs. Some bulbs will naturalize so keep this in mind when choosing a space in the garden. Most prefer to grow in full to part sun. Some tender bulbs like elephant ears and cannas are worth digging up and over-wintering. This way you can enjoy them during the growing season without having to purchase new bulbs each spring.|
|I have cannas and elephant ears. When would be a good time to transplant them? Tammy, Cumberland|
|Hello, Tammy in Kentucky: Both cannas (rhizomes) and elephant ears (bulbs) are considered tropical for us. They are technically hardy in zone 8, although some Kentucky gardeners have luck growing them as perennials in the garden, and if this is the case they are either growing in a microclimate or are heavily mulched during a mild winter. Whether you are transplanting them from another area of the garden or taking them out of winter storage, you will want to wait until the frost-free date for your area passes (around May 10). Both of these plants provide lush, tropical foliage during the warm months and they are very easy to over-winter and well worth the effort. Elephant ears and cannas can be stored indoors during the winter months and then planted back in the garden next spring. Before or just after the first hard freeze, cut back the foliage of your bulbs/rhizomes and dig them up from the soil, being careful not to damage the actual bulb. Shake off any excess soil and place it in a paper bag for storage. Wear gloves when you dig up your plant because the tuber/roots can cause skin irritation for some gardeners. If the bulb or roots have any moisture to them, lay them out to dry before storing them. They should be kept in a cool, dark space such as a closet or a dry basement. These bulbs should not be exposed to freezing temperatures or moisture during this time. This practice can be done year after year for many seasons of enjoyment.|
|I have daffodil bulbs from last fall and I did not plant them, so I have them in the refrigerator and was wondering, if I planted them now, would come up in the spring? Alisha, Cumberland|
|Hello, Alisha in Kentucky: You are certainly not the first gardener to purchase spring blooming bulbs with the intent of planting them and somehow it just doesn’t happen. How long have the bulbs been in the refrigerator? And are they wrapped in a paper bag or how are they being stored? Daffodils require a chilling period of 10-12 weeks. This happens naturally outdoors but in your situation they could have been potted up in a container or stored in a paper bag in a cool dark space. So, there are a few factors that will determine the viability of your bulbs. The length of time they have been in the fridge, the temperature of the fridge, the amount of light exposure during this time, and whether or not you had fruit in the fridge while the bulbs were in there. Fruit releases ethylene gas as it ripens, which can prevent the bulbs from flowering. If the bulbs have been stored properly and they are still firm you can plant them now. If the bulbs are soft to the touch or moldy they are not worth planting. Keep in mind that this season they will not be vigorous but the good news is that if the bulbs are still viable, then you will still be able to enjoy them for years to come. Daffodils are perennial bulbs so even if they are not stunning this season, they will get their roots settled, store up nutrients, and be a wonderful surprise next spring. Remember to keep the foliage up as long as possible during the growing season so it can photosynthesize and feed the bulb. Daffodils prefer to grow in a space that receives full to part sun and well-drained soil.|
|I have elephant ears that have green cocoon things all over them. What are they and how do I get rid of them? Danielle, Frost|
|Hello, Danielle in Texas: Both Alocasia and Colocasia are commonly referred to as elephant ears. The main difference between these bulbs is that the Alocasia genus are water lovers. They are typically found in ponds or bogs. The Colocasia genus will not tolerate excessive moisture and have larger foliage than the Alocasia. Regardless of which one you are growing, the cocoons are not harming your plants. There are many insects that spin cocoons in their larval stage. I cannot say for certain what insect has made its home on your plant. The most common insects that form cocoons are butterflies and moths, but many other insects, including beetles, spiders, flies, mites, wasps, and bees, also form cocoons. Depending on the insect, they can live in their cocoons up to several weeks. They are not taking nutrients from your plant but it might not be very pleasing in terms of aesthetics. You can hand pick the cocoons off your plant if you wish or just leave them there until the insect leaves and then remove them. You can take a sample of the cocoon to your County Cooperative Extension Office to have an entomologist identify it for you. They might not have an entomologist on staff so it may have to be sent away, but at least you would know what you are dealing with.|
|I have onion grass all over my front lawn. What can I do to get rid of it?
|Hello, Patty: Wild onion (Allium canadense) is a bulbous perennial that can be quite a prolific spreader. These winter perennials emerge in the late fall and grow all throughout the colder months. They flower and set seed only to create more plants. Alliums also spread by producing underground bulblets. The only organic way to remove them from your lawn is to dig them out. Just hand pulling them will leave the bulbs in the soil, ready to sprout again. Digging may or may not be an option, depending on the space you are dealing with. Be certain not to compost these plants. The only other way to eradicate your lawn is to spot spray with any herbicide that is labeled for broadleaf weed control. Effective herbicides include 2,4-D and glyphosate. A liquid application will be a much more effective method than a granular one. Now is the best time of the year to take action. Ideally we want to kill them before they are able to flower and produce seed. It can take several years to have a lawn that is completely free of wild onions because the seed can live in the soil for this long before germinating. On the next rain-free day, mow your grass to scratch up the waxy foliage and then spot spray, soaking the leaves. Because of this waxy coating it can prevent the herbicide from being absorbed, so mowing helps to get beyond that wax layer. Be careful not to spray the surrounding grass or it will also be killed. If you want to be really careful, you can use a paintbrush to apply the herbicide. As with any chemical, always read the instructions and apply according to directions. Be prepared to make more than one application. This is not an easy weed to get rid of.|
|I live in zone 6, New York. I planted some cannas bulbs in April of this year. No sign of growth at all so I covered the area with mulch. I added Miracle Gro and am still waiting. My neighbor's are beautiful, and I don't know what else to do. Diane, Hempstead|
|Hello, Diane in New York: As gardeners we all make mistakes and this is how we learn. Each gardening zone has an average frost-free date and as a Louisville, Kentucky, gardener mine is May 10. This means that your frost-free date should be later than ours since in you are in a lower hardiness zone. So, planting your bulbs in April, I suspect that they were subject to freezing temperatures and the rhizomes are no longer viable. Bulbs and rhizomes can either be considered hardy or tender. The hardy bulbs can be planted and will grow year after year, but the tender ones like your cannas need to be dug up and stored indoors during the winter months and then planted each year after the frost-free date for your area passes. Unfortunately once they are damaged by freezing temperatures they are no longer worth keeping. Fortunately, they are not too expensive so you can try again next season or buy some that are already growing and save the rhizomes for planting next year. You can ask at your local garden center or contact your County Cooperative Extension Service and ask the Horticulture agent about the frost-free date for you area.|
|i planted three beautiful Asiatic lillies recently. The rabbits have eaten all the green foliage and the flowers have died off. What should I do next? Will they bloom again? Denise, Peru|
|Hello, Denise in Indiana: Rabbits in the garden can be a real nuisance. Unfortunately, they can do serious damage to our plant material in just a few nibbles. It is still early in the growing season so hopefully your Asiatic lilies will put on new growth. This is necessary for your plants to collect nutrients for next season’s blooms. They will not flower again this year. As long as the rabbits did not dig up the actual bulb, they should put on new growth. It will be important to protect them from the rabbits as they attempt to do so. There are many products on the market made specifically for deterring these critters. You can visit your local garden center to see what they carry. Both the granular and liquid products will need to be reapplied after a certain time frame depending on the product, as well as after a hard rain. Chicken wire might also be helpful in protecting your lilies. There are certain plants that rabbits like better than others and lilies do seem to be one of their favorites. If this battle becomes too frustrating, you might consider replacing your lilies with another plant that is not so tempting to the rabbits.|
|I purchased Asiatic lilies from Home Depot in late April. At the time they were blooming, now the blooms are gone, but the plant is green and apparently healthy. When I planted them, I fertilized with Miracle Gro, and I continued to fertilize them for about two weeks. What have I done wrong and how can I correct it? Jan, Acworth|
|Hi Jan: Asiatic Lilies are easy-to-grow perennial bulbs. Like all other plants they have their own specific bloom time and then they are finished producing flowers for the season. They will typically bloom for at least a month but then the rest of the growing season they are collecting nutrients to provide next year's flowers. You have done nothing wrong, from what you have described this all sounds perfectly normal. As long as the foliage looks healthy you have nothing to worry about. Be careful not to over-fertilize since this can stop the plant from blooming. It is always a good idea to follow recommended application rates when it comes to fertilizing. Asiatic lilies are happiest when grown in full sun (six to eight hours per day) and well-drained soil. The bulb will be subject to root rot if the soil does not drain freely. The plants may bloom a bit later in your garden than they did this year since they were not likely grown in Georgia or outside. There are many species and cultivars of lilies that bloom at different times so planting an assortment of them will provide you with flowers all season. Acworth, GA|
|I purchased some iris bulbs from Breck's, but didn't plant them in time. Can I keep them over the winter and plant them in the spring? If so do I have to refrigerate them?
Tom, Green Bay|
|Hello, Tom in Wisconsin: Iris are technically rhizomes. They belong to a very large genus comprising of over 200 species. They provide nice color in the garden during the late spring/early summer months. Not to worry about storing your bulbs, you have not missed your opportunity to get them in the ground. Even in the northern climates October is still a fine time to plant, unless of course the ground is already frozen. As a general rule, iris rhizomes do not do well when stored for the winter. They tend to rot and are better off planted in the ground or even a container outdoors under not so optimal conditions rather than being stored. Tropical bulbs are a different story since we have no other option, but hardy bulbs/rhizomes are pretty tough and have certainly been planted later in the winter and still survived. So, given that you have time to get them in the soil be certain to find space in the garden that is well-drained and remains fairly dry during the summer months. Planting these bulbs at the proper depth is important; they only need to be 2 inches deep and the top of the bulbs can be sitting at soil level. Water in to encourage root growth.|
|I read about separating daffodil bulbs in the early summer or fall. Mine didn't bloom this year except for four of them. Should I dig them up and just leave the leaves on them or wait until they are brown? I just found your site and will definitely use it again. It has great information.
Del, Orland Park|
|Hi, Del: It is true that narcissus, commonly known as daffodils, benefit from being divided every three-five years. If your bulbs have been in the ground this long or longer, it is time to rejuvenate them. The bulbs will naturalize a space by producing smaller bulbs known as offsets. Year after year as the offsets are multiplying, they can become overcrowded and will not bloom as well as they once did since they are competing for nutrients. When this happens, moving some of the bulbs to another space in the garden will help them bloom again. The best time to do this is during the fall so they have time for root development before winter arrives. Dig your bulbs up carefully so you don't injure any of them and literally pull them apart. If they do not pull apart use a sharp, clean pair of gardening scissors or a knife to separate them. Make sure the bulbs are not soft; if they are, discard them. Transplant the firm bulbs into another space in the garden, planting them twice as deep as the diameter of the bulbs. Feeding them with a product such as Bulb-Tone in the fall or early spring will also be beneficial. For now, it is also important to leave the foliage alone after the blooms have faded so they can store up energy needed for next year's blooms. Keep in mind that the newly planted bulbs may not flower the first growing season.|
|I recently picked up some cannas bulbs. I would like to plant them in pots and have blooms this August. Can I expect
them to bloom even though I'm planting them so late in the year? Maggie, Louisville, KY Maggie, Louisville|
|Hi Maggie: There is no guarantee that they are going to bloom in August, but as long as the bulbs are viable they will put on new growth and most likely bloom this growing season. When you plant them, make sure they will be growing in a space that receives plenty of sunshine, and making sure the container has drainage is important as well. They are subject to rot if they are exposed to too much moisture. Cannas are considered tropicals for us and will not survive our winter temperatures but they are very easy to over-winter and well worth the effort. Cannas can be stored indoors during the winter months and then planted back in the garden next spring. Before or just after the first hard freeze, cut back the foliage of your bulbs and dig them up from the soil, being careful not to damage the actual bulb. Shake off any excess soil and place it in a paper bag for storage. If the bulb or roots have any moisture to them, lay them out to dry before storing them. They should be kept in a cool, dark space such as a closet or a dry basement. These bulbs should not be exposed to freezing temperatures or moisture during this time. Cannas are great for providing lush, tropical foliage to our summer gardens.
|Lilies are my favorite flower, but I am sensitive to their fragarance indoors. Is there anything I can do to lighten the odor of the flowers when they are put in a vase? Patsy, Marshall|
|Hi, Patsy: It is always nice to have fresh cut flowers inside. Lilies are one of the most popular cut flowers. Oriental lilies such as ‘Stargazer’ are very beautiful but they certainly have a distinct smell and one that can be overpowering in certain situations. They smell how they smell and there is no changing that, but fortunately for those who are more sensitive to their scent there many others to choose from and some are not so fragrant. The Oriental hybrids are the ones that are extremely floral. Asiatic hybrids are equally as beautiful in my opinion and are not so overwhelming. They are early summer bloomers as opposed to the Orientals, which are midsummer to early fall bloomers, but are available in an array of colors. Maybe it is best to enjoy the Oriental lilies outdoors and use the Asiatic lilies for your cut flowers. You should be able to find these at your local garden center. I hope planting a variety of other lily bulbs will allow you to enjoy them both indoors and out throughout the growing season.|
|My boyfriend bought me daffodil bulbs from Amazon. I received them today (2/21) and I planted one as an experiment. I dug 6 inches deep, in one pot, and made sure the soil was fairly moist. My question is: will this bulb grow, considering I waited a little to late to plant it?
And what should I do with the other nine bulbs? Is there a way I can save them or should I go ahead and plant them in the next few days, once my pots are cleaned?
Thanks! Sam, Cleveland|
|Hi, Sam: What a sweet boyfriend! Did your bulbs come with any information? I am wondering if they are really narcissus, commonly known as daffodils, or if they are Peruvian daffodils (Hymenocallis), also known as spider lily. My guess would be the Peruvian natives since he brought them back from the Amazon. Both belong to the Amaryllidaceae family, but they bloom at different times and are hardy to different zones. Assuming they are the Peruvian daffodils, the bulbs will produce fragrant blooms during the summer months, blooming white, cream, or yellow in color depending on cultivar. They are trumpet-shaped with thin extended-arching petals. These tender bulbs cannot survive temperatures less than 50 degrees F, so keep them indoors until temperatures both day and night are consistently above 50 degrees F. Go ahead and plant the rest of your bulbs. They should be planted no deeper than 5 inches and 8 inches apart in a potting soil that is peat/sand based and rich in nutrients. Make sure the containers have good drainage and keep them well-watered. The soil should not be allowed to completely dry out. These bulbs will benefit from a slow-release fertilizer and should receive plenty of sunshine. If possible place them in a south-facing window. Unfortunately, they will not survive the winter outdoors but you can save your bulbs from year to year. After they have finished blooming, gently remove them from the soil and store them in a dark, dry space, ideally between 60-70 degrees F until next spring when you can pot them up again.|
|My elephant ears are about 5 years old and are getting ugly. They look like a tree, and are about 5 to 6 feet high. Can I cut them off to about 2 feet and plant the one I cut off back in the ground? Maryann, North Port|
|Hello, Maryann in Florida: Growing elephant ears in your part of the country is quite different than growing them in Kentucky. In Florida, they are considered perennials but here in Kentucky, we have to bring our elephant ears inside to protect them from our winter weather. Depending on variety, these large-leafed plants can get to be 5-6 feet like yours or even taller. If the foliage looks ratty you can always cut it back. This will encourage new shoots to form but cutting off the existing foliage and placing it in the ground is not going to start a new plant. If your goal is to propagate your elephant ear then you will need to dig up the bulb and split apart some of the baby offsets. Since your plant has been in the ground for five years you will certainly have baby bulbs attached to the mother bulb. Gently separating them and replanting will give you additional plants. When you cut back the foliage that does not look good go ahead and take it all the way to the ground. It will put on new growth from the bulb and if you just cut off the top of the foliage it will not help to make the plant any prettier. These plants are considered heavy feeders and will benefit from a fertilizer high in nitrogen. If you have not fertilized recently it would not hurt to do so.|
|My husband and I just bought a new house, but I already planted my bulbs for spring. We are moving before Dec. 15, but have already had a hard frost. Is it okay for me to dig up my bulbs and replant them at our new home? If so, is there a process of what I should do? I really don't want to leave them behind, for both my flower love and my hate of wasted money. Stephanie, McPherson|
|Hi, Stephanie: Congratulations on your new home! I understand about not wanting to leave your bulbs behind especially since you have not been able to enjoy them. December is a bit late to get your bulbs in the ground but as long as the ground is not frozen you should have a pretty high success rate. Luckily you know where they are planted so go ahead and dig up the bulbs but be very careful not to injure them in the process. This is going to be the tricky part; gingerly start off digging with your hand trowel and then use your hands to dig the rest of the way, lifting the bulbs from the soil. It should be easy to work since you just planted them. Allow the bulbs to dry out for a day or two before you store them. This will prevent any rot problems. You will want to store them in a cool, dry space with good air circulation until you can get them back in the ground. I know you will have a lot to do when you move but make sure that getting the bulbs back in the ground is on the top of your to-do list. You may even talk to your realtor to see if planting them before you close on the house would be an option.|
|Our son and daughter-in-law are planning their wedding reception for Memorial Day weekend, 2014, in our back yard. What bulbs can I plant this fall that might be blooming then? Pat, Louisville, KY Pat, Louisville|
|Hi Pat: Congratulations on this exciting event! To say for certain that specific bulbs or any plant material will be blooming on the last Monday in May is not realistic; it is mostly up to Mother Nature but if you plant a variety of bulbs that are mid to late spring bloomers then you will certainly have color in your garden for the reception. Daffodils (narcissus), hyacinth, grape hyacinth, alliums, iris hybrids, and tulips are all good choices. Many of these are perennial bulbs for Kentucky gardeners so keep this in mind when planting them. I like to plant bulbs in containers and move them to prominent areas of the garden as they bloom. This is a great option if you do not have a lot of planting space or just another means of introducing color. Spacing rules go out the door when planting in a container. You want to get as many bulbs as possible in the container so it can provide optimal color. Perennial bulbs can be transplanted into the garden later, or bulbs such as tulips that are not reliable bloomers year after year can be composted. Each type of bulb will have its own requirements in terms of planting depth as well as spacing. Garden centers will soon have spring-blooming bulbs for planting this fall. The sooner you get them in the ground, the more time they will have to develop a root system and provide blooms for next spring. For more specific information on planting bulbs in Kentucky you should visit www2.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/ho/ho80/ho80.htm.
|Someone trampled all over my beautiful elephant ears last night. I'm so upset!! Is there any way to save them so they can grow again?? Gisela, Glennville|
|Hello, Gisela in Georgia: The good news is that there is still plenty of warm weather left for your elephant ear to put on new growth. As long as the actual bulb was not damaged and it was able to store up some energy this growing season, it should be viable for years to come. For now, cut back the damaged foliage and keep the soil around the bulb moderately moist. I am not certain what hardiness zone you are gardening in but you might be growing this bulb as a perennial. If not, be sure to lift the bulb from the soil before the first hard freeze and gently rub the soil off. Let the bulb dry for seven to 10 days and then store it in a brown paper bag for the winter months. You can pot it back up next spring and it can go back outdoors after the frost-free date for your area passes. I suspect the bulb will be fine in the long run, but it is frustrating to watch it grow only to be trampled down overnight. You might also consider putting some type of barrier around them if you think this will help protect it in the future.|
|What are the red berries on my elephant ear? Carol, Petersburg, VA Carol, Petersburg|
|Hi Carol: The red berries on your elephant ear form when the flowers (spaths) are pollinated. The spadix is the center part of the bloom that produces a spike-like structure where the flowers form. After these flowers are pollinated they form these berries/seeds that can be planted for propagation purposes. Elephant ears are typically grown for their foliage and not their flowers but it is always a bonus when they do. This usually happens as the bulbs age or become overcrowded. They actually belong to the same family as peace lilies and the flowers look very similar. Elephant ear plants may be hardy where you live but for those of us gardening in Kentucky we have to dig up the bulbs and store them indoors during the winter months.|
|When do I plant resurrection lily bulbs? I guess your answer will tell me what time of year to buy them. I looked everywhere this fall and no one had them. Barbara, Shepherdsville|
|Hi, Barbara: Resurrection lilies, also commonly known as Surprise lilies or Magic lilies, are bulbs that belong to the amaryllis family. There are several species but the most cold-hardy is Lycoris squamigera. The Japanese natives have been cultivated in American gardens since the late 1800s. These bulbs are not as easy to find as tulips and narcissus are this time of year at most garden centers. Not to say that you will not be able to find them in your local garden center but you may have better luck online. They can be sold in both the fall and the spring. If planted in the fall the foliage will produce in late winter and you will be able to enjoy the blooms the following summer. If the bulbs are planted in the spring it may take a full season before you will get any blooms. This bulb seems to be one that is more commonly divided and shared among gardening friends/neighbors. If you have a friend that will share the best time to divide these bulbs is after the blooms have faded, usually in September. They are tolerable of most soil conditions (except poorly drained soil) and will grow in full sun to partial shade. Call around to your local garden centers to see if they carry these bulbs or if they could order them for you. Otherwise, Plant Delights Nursery is a reputable online source that carries these bulbs. You can visit their Web site at www.plantdelights.com/Lycoris/products/241.|
|Where on the Web can I purchase the daylily named 'Kelly Ann,' cultivar Guidry 1986? Carolyn, Newton|
|Hello, Carolyn: Fortunately and unfortunately, there are literally hundreds of cultivars of daylilies. This can make the demand for some not so great and therefore they are not commonly found in the trade. After an extensive search, I was not able to find a single grower that has Hemerocallis ‘Kelly Ann’ on their list. I contacted Patrick Guidry at Guidry’s Daylily Garden thinking that if anyone grew this cultivar it would be him, but it turns out this daylily was hybridized by a lady named Lucille Guidry in his hometown but of no relation. She has since closed her garden center because of illness. According to the American Daylily Society, ‘Kelly Ann’ is a cross between 'Little Brandy' and 'Rose Tiara.' The bloom is 6 inches in diameter with rose pink petals and a green throat. It grows to be 30 inches tall and is said to be very fragrant. I have not heard back from the Daylily Society but I will certainly let you know when I do. I appreciate your patience and hopefully there is someone out there still growing this cultivar!||