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Bulb Questions and Answers

How do I keep squirrels from digging up bulbs?

Squirrels can be terrible pests! They won't bother daffodils and other narcissi bulbs (which taste terrible to them!), but they find tulips and crocus in particular to be worth the effort to sniff out and dig up.

The only sure-fire way to protect tulips and crocuses and other tasty bulb treats from squirrels is to lay wire mesh such as chicken wire on top of the bed. The squirrels can't dig through the mesh and the flowers will grow neatly through the holes.

Bulbs are most vulnerable in autumn immediately after planting when the soil is still soft and worked up. Digging then is easy! Squirrels often "chance" upon bulbs when burying their nuts in soft ground. Or they are attracted by "planting debris" such as bits of papery bulb tunics and other bulb-scented bits from the bulb bags. Don't advertise your plantings. Clean up and keep those squirrels guessing!

Here's one trick that garden writer Judy Glattstein has found to work. After planting new areas, lay old window screens in frames on the ground, covering the newly-worked up soil. The screen weighs enough to foil the squirrel, but allows for air circulation and rainfall. Once the ground has settled, remove the screens and store for future use.

Another remedy that some find successful is to actually feed the squirrels during the autumn and winter. The theory is that the local squirrel population, when offered a handy plate of peanuts or other easy-to-get treats will leave your bulbs alone. At the White House, the gardeners put up six peanut-filled feeding boxes to satiate the furry denizens there -- and reduce squirrel damage on bulb beds by 95 percent! Many gardeners claim success with commercial repellents, but these are often sticky and unpleasant to deal with or wash away in the rain.

Home remedies include scattering things that smell like humans, which squirrels apparently do not like, such as: cut hair (collected from the hairdresser's floor) and/or vacuum cleaner bag contents on top of new bulb plantings.  You will find advocates and detractors of both methods. A favourite Dutch remedy is to interplant Fritillaria imperialis. This tall dramatic plant gives off an odour that squirrels (and deer too, reportedly) find repellent. There is a book on the subject, "Outwitting Squirrels," by Bill Adler, Jr. (1988 Chicago Review Press, Chicago, IL). It's aimed at owners of bird feeders, but you may find some helpful hints.

Should I apply mulch? How deep? When?

Mulch is not required but it is often beneficial. Three inches is plenty. Wait until the ground cools down. Contrary to popular notions, mulching over bulbs is meant to retain soil moisture and keep the ground temperatures cool and stable, not to serve as a "warm winter blanket" (except in the very coldest climates). Mulch just before the ground freezes. Applying mulch too early in the season, when the ground is still soft and warm, can invite infestations by field mice and other critters who like to burrow in to establish winter quarters (and no doubt dig up tasty tulip treats!).

Is it true that bone meal is the best bulb food?

Once upon a time, bone meal was considered an excellent bulb fertilizer, but times have changed! Most bone meal today has been so thoroughly processed that the essential nutrients have been literally boiled out. As well, some of the newer bone meal formulations smell just like bones ending up actually attracting dogs, raccoons, etc who start digging in the area where the bone meal has been applied. Spring-flowering bulbs actually need no fertilizer for their first season of blooming. A healthy Dutch bulb will already contain all the food it needs to support one season of spectacular growth. Bulbs that will be left in the ground to naturalize will benefit from well-rotted cow manure or special bulb fertilizer when the shoots first appear in spring and again the following autumn.

How long will it take for an Amaryllis to bloom in the living room?

Once the Amaryllis has been planted in a pot it should be watered and placed in a warm , sunny spot. Under these conditions it should flower in about three weeks. As soon as the bud opens, the pot should be moved to a cooler spot so that you can enjoy the flowering process a little longer.

Can I plant an Amaryllis in the garden after it has produced flowers?

Once the flowers have faded, an Amaryllis can be planted in the garden. If the summer is warm and the leaves receive enough sunlight to encourage bulb development, it may produce another flower next year. However, the pot must be brought inside in the autumn months, as the Amaryllis cannot tolerate any frost whatsoever.

When do bulb growers in the Netherlands plant their bulbs?

Growers in the Netherlands plant their bulbs in November. They can do this because winters touxiang in the Netherlands never really start until mid-December. In regions where the winter starts earlier, it would be advisable to plant tulips in October.

What is the Flower Bulbs Quality Mark Foundation Holland (SKBH)?

The Flower Bulbs Quality Mark Foundation Holland is a foundation that was established to offer consumers an independent sounding board for any complaints that might arise. You can contact this foundation if your bulbs have not provided the desired results. Sending a photo along with a complaint is not obligatory but can definitely support your position. You can also submit a complaint if the bulbs you purchased produced flowers other than those indicated on the packaging. Just make sure, however, that the SKBH logo appears on the packaging.

In which country are dahlias cultivated?

Dahlias are cultivated primarily in the Netherlands. Most of these growers ae located around the Bulb Research Centre (LBO) and companies that select new varieties. Other regions where dahlias are cultivated are the western coasts of France and the United States.

Why are tulips grown in Holland of all places?

Tulips were introduced into the Netherlands at the end of the 16th century by Carolus Clusius. People in the Netherlands were quick to take an interest in these bulbs and started experimenting with growing them in the gardens around their homes. Because the demand for tulips grew, an increasingly professional approach was devoted to their cultivation, and it turned out that the coastal area � and especially the strip of land just inside the Dutch dunes - had the perfect conditions for this. The marine climate with its mild winters and cool summers, proper drainage with a consistent water level, the right type of soil and the fact that the Netherlands was a centre of trade were all very beneficial factors. With the increasing urbanization occurring in the traditional bulb growing regions, the most important growing areas today are located in the northern regions of the Netherlands where there is still enough land available for bulb growing. This will assure their cultivation in the Netherlands for a long time to come.

Are there bulbs that scare off mice and/or rats?

Unfortunately, no bulbs have the capacity to really scare off mice or rats. There are a few precautionary measures that can be taken to keep these pests from eating your bulbs.. First, plant the bulbs deeply enough and cover them properly with soil so that mice and/or rats are not attracted to the planting site. Secondly, cover the border where the bulbs have been planted with some finely meshed wire netting. Lay out this netting so that it more than covers the border and then insert the edges slightly into the soil.

 

 

 

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