Keith Kridler, Texas

Digging and planting time in North East Texas

January 9, 2008

Categories: Bulb Information, Daffodil Types, Growing Daffodils, Historics, Hybridizing, Planting, Seeds, Soil, Species

Download PDF

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas Located in the narrow north/south strip of “Post Oak Savannah” soil type region of northeast Texas. My house sits just 40 miles south and east of the heavy “Blackland Prairie” type soils that were once the vast short grass prairie replaced with millions of acres of cotton in the late 1800’s.. Just 30 miles to my east lie the Iron Ore/red clay soils that were covered in yellow pine forests that were clear cut by 1920. Tree trunk diameter of 5>8 feet (1.6>2.6 Meters) were common in the pine/oak species. Elevation above sea level is 368 feet (120 meters or so.)
Our official winter hardiness zone is 7B but most winters since the 1990’s we are at 8B or warmer (one year we NEVER had a killing frost). The late 70’s were at 6A low temperature records.
The n. Papyrus shots were taken yesterday just before the thunderstorms rolled through our region. They have been blooming now since Thanksgiving Day or Nov. 22. n. Italicus just opened in the last couple of days but the buds were “cooked” with a 17*F (-9*C) night last week. The petals opened but the cups are fused at the open ends. Chinese Sacred lilies got burned foliage, kinked stems from the freeze but the blooms were open a week before the low temperatures hit. Temperatures jumped from this low to 80*F (25*C) with wind speed gusts above 50 MPH for two full days now back to 32*F (0*C) this morning.
Our soil temperatures dropped to a low this year of 56*F (13*C) but were back up to 59*F (14*C) on Monday. (Soil temperature is checked at 6″ (15.24CM) depth, water line temperatures were the same temperature at a depth of 12″ (30.48CM) as was the water in a flowing stream on our property.
This year we dug most of our flower bulbs beginning the last week in May. We start with Lycoris Radiata and Oxblood lilies then the paper whites. Then species bulbocodiums then jonquils and heirloom/historic varieties to try to finish digging about June 8th in the “front field”. We have 2&1/2 acres of our commercial daffodils planted in our front yard. They grow under Bermuda Grass lawn. We “try” to mow over all of the bulbs we are NOT going to dig this year for Mothers Day or about my wife Sandy’s birthday on May 10. By this date we are in violation of our city ordinance that requires all lawns to be kept mowed at or below 12″ (30.48). By June the heat of the day and lack of rainfall quickly puts all daffodils into complete dormancy. Some years this has occurred by May 1. This “upper” field has nice sandy loam 6″>18″ (15>45 CM) deep over a solid red clay subsoil. In 22 years of digging on this property we have only found about 5 gallons of “rocks or stones” from pebble size up to baseball size.
We continue digging in our lower fields off and on during the summer months and finished digging the last of the blocks August 30. The lower field of 15 acres is only 35 feet (12 meters) lower in elevation. About half of this has soil OK for daffodils. The entire property is highly eroded cotton fields from the 1940’s then abandoned pastures since then. top soil in the “bottom” ranges from 0 inches 0 CM to more than 6 feet (2 Meters) deep The original 2.5 acres were placed/annexed in the city limits in 1953, the house was built in 1975, we purchased the property in 1985. The rest of our property was annexed by the city in 1990.
Texas has the first big bulb sale that I know of in the USA. The Tyler Master Gardeners will sell in excess of 12,000 daffodil bulbs on the second Saturday in September in just about 3 hours of sale time. (Thus I HAVE to finish digging their bulb order and dry bulbs and deliver them two weeks before their sale!) Bill the Bulb Barron ships his bulbs to Tyler a couple of weeks early. Chris Wiesinger and his Southern Bulb Company deliver bulbs also in August for their big sale.
The “Big Box Stores” get Dutch bulbs on the shelves after Thanksgiving.
Now we and the other speakers (“southern” bulb experts) recommend that you plant your daffodils and other bulbs that you buy IMMEDIATELY or as soon as we get fall rains in the Sept.>Oct. time frame! I tell people who dig and replant small numbers of bulbs to dig them in May and IMMEDIATELY replant them as bulbs ALWAYS do better on average in the ground than in the garage in our summer heat!
copied from Peter’s post below: In the cultural manual which I wrote for the National Daffodil Society of New Zealand I cite research which makes it clear that Daffodils will not begin growth until soil temperatures drop to 15 degrees Centigrade. I also drew attention to controlled research at the Rosewarne Research Institute in the UK which showed that late planting drastically reduced the numbers of flowers. Indeed in their second year of flowering those planted on August 12 increased flowering by 223% compared with those planted on November 4 where the increase was only 82%.
There are ALWAYS exceptions to EVERY “rule or research!” In the southern USA according to this above good research then our daffodils would NEVER root out and grow or bloom! Through trial and error (which is EXTREMELY costly money and time wise) there are THOUSANDS of northern bred varieties of daffodils that will NEVER survive five full years planted in the southern USA. There are THOUSANDS of daffodil varieties that will grow, multiply, set bud and then blast and NEVER bloom. Because of our soil, air temperatures or other things I can’t figure out. The variety called TEXAS is just one such bulb. Bred somewhere other than Texas and named I presume for the Battleship Texas and their big guns on D-Day I have NEVER coaxed a bloom from it in 22 years of growing it here in Texas.
(If you do a search on Indianola Texas where many of the Germans entered Texas back in the mid 1800’s you will find that about 80% of THEM also died within five years of being transplanted to Texas lands!)
I am curious as to the soil temperatures we have right now in Southern California where all the beautiful shots of fall blooming stuff Harold is sending photos to the list from! We saw great shots of hundreds of plastic buckets filled with bulbs sitting on the ground I believe from Melisa there also in California. This is “probably” not the best way to grow bulbs in much of the world!
I had SIX people call or ask me just yesterday about how to plant daffodils. Wal-Mart, Lowe’s and Home Depot our local “Big Box Stores” reduced all of the bulb prices 70% off on Monday. Not sure about the rest of the world but in the USA people KNOW that if they wait to buy these bulbs, that the first week in January EVERY year you can buy bulbs CHEAP.
This WHOLE thread about saving dried bulbs, planting late ETC. started WEEKS ago with the 16 year old boy who dug WAY more bulbs than he could replant and found his “huge pile” of dug bulbs numbering in the thousands I presume, starting to sprout. Then Jim Chaney needing help in late December with planting hundreds of $ worth of late received daffodils and even bulbs just received in January that he threw away.
The sunset shot was taken last night from a parking lot as I went to help with a three hour program teaching master gardeners how to propagate plants, start seeds and yes how to PLANT daffodils. The County Extension Agent was taught three months ago at a university how to propagate daffodils by quartering them, drying them and then planting the quarters. I’ll try to get shots of what he ended up with from his daffodil quarters. KK

One response to “Digging and planting time in North East Texas”

  1. Phyllis Hess says:

    Keith, Once again you have provided a beautiful “wallpaper shot” for my computer. LOVE THE SUNSET! I had been using a shot of a flamingo and poinsettias I took Christmas Day at Busch Gardens, but was looking for a new one. Thank you again, Phyllis Hess in Spring Hill Fl, where it is 77 today and sunny, no idea what the soil temps are, (don’t want to disturb the fire ants!)