Bulbous and Cormous Plants – Bulbs, Flowers, Lillies

Bulbous and Cormous Plants – Bulbs, Flowers, Lillies

These are grown as temporary house plants and, although they are colourful and much appreciated, they require a rest period after flowering, which is not always possible if one lives in a flat or apartment.

Dry, dormant bulbs, for winter or early spring flowering, should be grown in flowerpots in a suitable potting compost. Bowls with no means of drain- age should be filled with bulb fibre or pebbles, with a hand- ful of charcoal at the base of the bowl. It is possible to buy prepared bulbs, which have received heat treatment for some weeks before dispatch, and which will start into life more rapidly than unprepared bulbs, but these must be planted when received.

For domestic forcing it is usually convenient to put the pots into a cool, dark cup- board. An average temperature of 10° C is ideal. Once the plants are in their cupboard they need only be inspected once a month to check that soil or fibre is still moist. Once the flower bud has emerged from the bulb the containers can be brought out into a light position, but still kept cool. A warm room will make them grow too fast and the stems will be weak and floppy.

crocus When the flower buds are actually visible, the pots and bowls can be brought into a warm room. The above treatment applies to daffodils, narcissus, hyacinths and tulips and the small spring bulbs such as Crocus, Scilla, Galanthus (snowdrops) Chionodoxa and Iris reticulata. Some other bulbs require different treat- ment. Freesias must be potted up in soil in early autumn with the corms distributed fairly thickly about 1/2 inch below the surface. The soil should be well watered and the pots placed in a light but shady position. Once the flower buds are formed they can be put in a warmer place.

Amaryllis, correctly Hippeastrum, are large bulbs that produce trumpet-shaped flowers, ranging from white to scarlet, during autumn or early spring. They appreciate as much warmth as can be provided and can be grown from dry bulbs or bought already potted up. Once growth has started the Amaryllis is treated like any other indoor plant. After flowering the leaves will con- tinue to grow and make a handsome, striking, display.

The Scarborough Lily, Vallota purpurea, is an ideal window plant. Introduced from South Africa in 1774, it owes its common name to its one time popularity in that town. It has funnel-shaped, bright scarlet flowers in clusters of three to eight at the head of a stout stalk, arising from stiff, upright, broad, linear leaves, about 15 inches long, in early autumn. A little feed, such as liquid manure, will help when buds form. Growth slackens in the spring.

Nerine is native to South Africa and easily grown in pots for the house, to give autumn flowers of great charm. N. bowdeuii has large umbels of soft pink flowers with recurring petals on 18 inch stalks and there are some other lovely varieties. N. sarniensis, the Guernsey Lily, is not quite so large but is glowing salmon in colour, on 2 foot stems, orange-scarlet in the variety corusccz, and fiery scarlet in the variety venusta. All these species flower before the glossy green leaves appear. They must be allowed to die down and be kept dry until autumn when watering restarts growth.

lilium pumilium Lillies grow well in pots and make good house plants, but they do take up a lot of space. The bulbs are large and must be buried in large pots. Lilium auratum has a large head of white trumpet-shaped flowers thickly spotted with golden spots, and with a golden ray down the centre of each petal. Lilium regale, with white trumpet-shaped flowers purple flushed on the outside of the petals, and the small scarlet flowered Lilium pumilum are also suitable, as is the well-known white trumpet lily, Lilium longiflorum. The white Arum Lily, Zantedeschia aethiopica, does not require a great deal of heat so long as it is not exposed to freezing temperatures, but it does need a fairly large pot. All arums can be given a liquid feed about every ten days when growth is really established and buds are formed.

After flowering has finished, when the leaves start to yellow and dry off, watering should be much reduced, but should never be wholly discontinued. If it is possible to put the pots outside during the summer, it will be beneficial. Ixia, Lachenalia and Sparaxis can also be grown in pots for the house

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