There have been a few questions lately asking how to grow bulbous plants
from seed.Over the past few years I have chosen many bulbous plants from
various society seed exchanges and have found the following way of
dealing with them successful.
Growing these plants from seed is very rewarding, especially when they
first flower, and a collection of rare and expensive plants can be built
up relative ease and economy.If you sow bulbous plants each year, you
will soon have plants flowering for their first time every year.In many
cases you cannot easily buy some of the plants offered in seed exchanges
and this is the only way of obtaining them.Seed companies offer a
limited selection of bulbous plant seeds, however, there are specialist
companies who deal exclusively in seeds of bulbous plants.
Depending on the quantity of seed available, I use 3" square plastic
pots.You waste less space in the frame if square pots are used.
- 2.Sowing medium.
The seedlings and young plants will remain in their pots for up to two
years after germination.I fill the bottom half of the pot with a mixture
of 50/50 John Innes No2 and Grit with added Bonemeal.The top half is a
50/50 mix of John Innes No1 and Grit.Freshly germinated seedlings do not
need much nutrition, so the top half is a hungry mix to avoid any
problems with scorching. When the root systems start to develop and
search for food, there is some available in the bottom half of the pot.
Seed is sown thinly over the surface of the compost, covered with a
layer of grit, watered and labelled.The pots are placed in a frame that
is open to all the elements apart from a cover of Netlon shading
material.Any seeds that require stratification will be subjected to
frost in the frame.
Hopefully by the spring, seedlings will have emerged.They will behave in
exactly the same way as their parents.So when that potfull of Narcissus
seedlings die down they are not dead.Do not prick any seedlings out into
individual pots.The bulbs are far too small to cope with this.They are
best left in the pot to grow on.
They can be fed with a half strength dose of Miracle Grow or Phostrogen.
- 5.Spring in year 2.
The seedlings should have resumed growth, they can be fed and cared for
during the spring and early summer.Once the foliage has died down the
pots can be knocked out and the contents inspected.If they are a
reasonable size, say no smaller than a pea, they can be potted up
individually, if not, the whole potfull can be repotted using fresh
compost.Try to place them in the pot at the same depth as you found
- 6.Year 3.
By the end of the summer your bulbs should be of a size to pot them
individually.Some will not be of a flowering size and you have to be
patient.Every year I pot each one on in August, and they are subjected
to the same growing regime as established flowering plants.
- 7. Enjoy.
Written by Martin Froggatt. March 2000