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some bulb comments- Jim another OT for ya :)

HI gang,
Claire has not signed on yet, but is reading our archives. A few
comments of her's for you all to enjoy. She will be joining us shortly!

You are soooooooooooooo right.  There are a lot messages on the new list
plus a lot of people I know online.  It is sort of refreshing to see
some subjects treated as pleasure in the garden and less obsessively
than some of the dedicated lists.

I pass along to you to post the sources of everything geophytic (bulbs,
tubers, etc,) available in the US and outside the US:

Great Lakes Bulb Society: Bulb and Seed Sources

The thread on Amaryllis (this is really Hippeastrum and beginning to
appear labelled correctly) plus Haemanthus albiflos is one I read

Haemanthus albiflos is usually available at Russell's Stafford's Odyssey
Bulbs.  He is online with his catalog.  If you grow it from seed you
will wait until Kingdom Come for flowers, get bulbs instead and buy at
least three to a five inch pot.  It is not beautiful, it is easy to grow
and is somewhat curious.  I have one and will say the list description
was a good one.

Regarding the Hippeastrum thing (Amaryllis) one of the reasons for lack
of rebloom is understanding the cycle of the bulb and the marketing of
the bulb.  I can speak for those zone 5 and north of 5.  

They are sold by most dealers, the best included with the fleshy roots
trimmed to fit in the package or box.  The bulb requires a full set of
healthy roots to flourish and bloom.  When it comes to you the first
flower scapes are already in the bulb so you have a great first year. 
The second year may be blind while the bulb grows some new roots and
becomes accustomed to it's new home.  After that it should bloom
yearly.  If the bulb takes a year off, one should not be upset.  Most
true bulbs have "contractile" roots which roughly means they anchor the
bulb by growing straight downward.  A tall clay pot is the best thing
and a gritty soil with some humus is good.  Leave the bulb alone as long
as you like.  Division the of daughter bulbs is not necessary but can be
done after dormancy if you like.

With winter or spring bloom in the north, you will have to keep the now
floppy and unattractive foliage going along until you can put it
outside.  It will need light and water and feeding.  Find a place in you
house where you can line up the pots and wait out the cold weather.  If
you remove the foliage at this stage, there will be no flowers a year
from now.

After blooming the bulb must mature the foliage and it must be
fertilized several time while doing so to make another big show. In the
north it may sometimes refuse to dry off so when the freezing weather
comes, you slice off the foliage and store dry, dark and above
freezing.  A new flower bud will appear when it feels like coming up,
all different times as what you are buying are hybrids.  If you are past
the best part of winter, you can warm up the pot and water to urge them
to get started.

There are several original sources of the hybrids, Dutch bred and
African bred. The Africans are shorter, have smaller bulbs and work out
on a window sill better than the well known Dutch.  The Dutch hybrids
are very tall.  All are easy to buy but you need a catalog for a wide
selection.  Look in at Scheepers and see some of the new hybrids on the
market.  Pink Floyd is long lasting and an unusual form. Cybisters are
also unusual and treat to have some new ones to try, also Scheepers.

The size of the mother bulb is what dictates the number of scapes.  A
good sized Dutch bulb is 32-34 cm. in circumference.  A smaller sized
bulb which would be sold in the chain stores will produce usually just
one scape.  The African bred bulbs are smaller yet produce several
scapes.  To my surprise I saw some prize African CV's in Walmart this
year.   Always open the box or view the package to check the progress of
the flower scape.  If started it may be twisted around in the box and be
useless as a blooming plant this winter.  Open the box whatever way it
is sealed before you buy it.  A catalog dealer will not send such a bulb
but if you find one boxed and want it, do check.

We in the north are all done ordering anything now.  These must be put
on a reminder list for next fall. Therefore a boxed store bulb might be
you only chance.  You will not find the Haemanthus in a garden center, a
catalog order is necessary.    In the southern states other methods are
followed.  Along the gulf states and in Florida, they are grown outdoors
and follow a different timetable.

If you want to pass along any of this plus my name, feel free.  I would
write this to list but I am not able to handle any more mail this week. 
You were certainly correct, a lot of messages, fun reading.  I sent the
link on to a friend who needs more mail.

Thanks again.  It looks like great fun.  I will sign on.

Claire Peplowski
East Nassau, NY z4

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