Keith Kridler, Texas

Fw: dig & divide questions

June 21, 2009
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Categories: Basal Rot, Breeding, Bulb Information, Diseases and Pests, Growing Daffodils, Hybridizing, Planting, Soil

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Subject: dig & divide questions
Date: Sat, 20 Jun 2009 10:52:55 -0400
Morning everyone,

I’m doing an overdue “dig and divide” operation on my daffodils and
have some questions:

Keith Kridler “It always helps to know a general part of a state or country so that we can be more precise on recomending how, what, where and when to dig or plant daffodils. I am growing bulbs in the Northeast Corner of Texas in planting zone 7B. If you are in New York or Virginia you need a little different suggestions:-))”

1.  One clump included a bulb that had what looked like a really fat,
black worm inside the bulb. My “gardeners’ bowie knife” from Brent and
Becky’s made short work of the worm and the bulb, but should I also do
something else with the other bulbs or the soil they came from?  The
rest of the bulbs in the clump didn’t look like they were infected/ affected.
“”KK Sounds like the large narcisus bulb fly. If the bulbs are inexpensive chain store bulbs you did the right thing by killing the larval form of the fly and tossing the whole bulb. IF the bulb is really expensive you can remove the fly larva and clean out the damaged section and treat/dip the bulb in with systemic fungicides, dry the bulb/cure the bulb well allowing the damaged section to heal before replanting later this summer or fall. Check out online information about the bulb flies IF you find more than about 3% of bulbs with the larva!””
2.  Again, one bulb in another clump had a mushy basil plate.  That
bulb’s been tossed, and the rest of the clump looks normal, but should
I do something else?
“”KK Sounds like basal rot. Again depending on price of the bulbs affected will determine if you need to do treatment of the whole stock of this variety. Normally you want to dry the bulbs where they get good air movement. Check the bulbs every couple of weeks to see if more are getting soft and rotting from this variety. Toss them at the first signs of rot. They often will have a smell of rotten potato when you have basal rot.””
3.  A basket of mini bulbs morphed into one huge bulb that looks like
a huge onion that had begun to peel open!  In fact, said bulb is
breaking the berry basket!  What do I do with that bulb?
“”KK Sounds like a stray bulb that was not a mini that ended up in that basket. Replant it and see what blooms or check it to be sure an onion or garlic seed did not end up in the basket:-))””
4.  On the other side, a basket of mini bulbs now contains about 3
dozen really tiny bulbs!  Each bulb is no larger than a small pea, and
some are about half that size.  Now what?
“”KK Again replant them in a part of the flower beds that get more or stronger sunlight. You might have a varity that will NOT grow and bloom in your area. We don’t know what cold zone you are in but daffodils need 6 to 8 hours of direct sunshine during growing season. Some are NOT very cold hardy and the foliage freezes every year. Others are NOT very heat tolerant and die back too quick each year leaving you with puny bulbs that will never rebloom. IF this is the case send them to someone in a better climate:-))””5.  Some multi-nosed bulbs almost self-separate, and it’s just a case
of carefully pulling their roots apart.  If appropriate, other noses
need to be manually cracked off.  But how large should the secondary,
etc. bulbs be before it is safe to crack the smaller bulbs off the
‘mother bulb?’

“”KK I do NOT break off the smaller bulbs from the main bulb as this often results in a damaged basal plate. Then in storage the spores from basal rot can land on this damaged section of bulb and spread into the cuts or breaks. Any damaged bulbs should probably be dipped in fungicide, allowed to dry and watched closer than the rest of the bulbs to check for rotten bulbs over the next month or so. I like to dig bulb clumps, shake off most of the dirt and allow the roots to dry and shrivel before I even divide the larger bulbs as the roots hold everything so tightly together. The more living roots you break off the more wounds you leave in the bulb the more chances for infection the bulbs will be exposed to. BUT these are a truly hardy plant, especially the species. Generations of line breeding for bloom size and color tends to select the newer named introductions of bulbs for better blooms BUT less resistance to disease!””

6.  Does one wash the bulbs with a bleach & water solution, or just
plain water?
“”KK I like to air dry most of the bulbs without a water bath. Washing from a hose helps to remove clay. Expensive/less hardy bulbs would benefit from hot water treatment with pesticides and fungicides, again info on this found on the internet.”” 

7.  What do you do with bulbs that have been grown in a pot?
“”KK Divide, dry and replant in the ground.””
8.  We have a very shady plot, & sunny space is hard to find, so some
bulbs are planted close together, while others have space to spread
out.  The ones that have space seem to naturalize and bury themselves
in layers, deeper in our hard clay soil, instead of going horizontal.
Would that be an accurate observation, or did I originally bury them
deeper than I thought?
“”KK Bulbs multiply in clumps differently depending on the soils. Adding an inch or two of Expanded Shale might improve your soil texture if you mix it in as you plant. Creating raised beds with better soil will also improve the results from your bulbs. How many years have the bulbs been planted without dividing?””
9.  My digger sometimes cuts about a third of the way into the side of
a bulb.  Can I re-plant this bulb immediately?
“”KK Dry and treat the expensive bulbs with fungicides before replanting. Cheaper bulbs can simply be dried and if they rot you can toss them. Normally bulbs heal OK from this damage if they are kept dry till planting time in the fall.””I know it’s a lot, but I haven’t been able to find much guidance
elsewhere and decided to ask the experts.

“”KK A bulb expert is just someone who has killed more bulbs than you have:-))””Thanks.

Vicky Eicher
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