Clay Higgins, New Jersey

Daffodil Planting and Mulching

December 3, 2016

Categories: American Daffodil Society, Conservation, General, Growing Daffodils, Planting, Science, Weed Control

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Something more related to daffodils.  I have been planting my daffodils lately, starting right after Thanksgiving as November have been colder than normal where I live in NC.  I had to plant in a plaid shirt and jacket with gardener gloves to keep my hands warm.

As I was mulching with pine chip mulch today Fran took pictures.  So I thought just to show you I can still dump a wheel borrow load of mulch and spread it, I’d send some pictures as proof.

Mulch ready to be dumped.  Takes about 7 wheel borow loads to supply mulch for a 40 foot bed.  The bed to my immediate right is finished.  Sorry the pictures are not any larger.

Clay mulching daffys 6 docx

More mulch being dumped on the bed.  After I dump the mulch I take a 6 prong fork and spread it out evenly on the bed.  .

Clay mulching daffys 4 docxClay

29 Responses to Daffodil Planting and Mulching

  1. Suzy Wert, Indiana
    December 3, 2016 at 11:14 am

    Very nice! The paths are much lower than the surrounding beds — I wish I had thought of that here!
    Looks like everything will be put to bed shortly, congratulations!


  2. Clay Higgins, New Jersey
    Clay Higgins, New Jersey
    December 3, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    Hi Suzy,

    In this location I use 4 feet wide raised beds  X 40′ long and when I get 3 or 4 inches of mulch on them they are relatively high.  I have 18 inches between beds that I use as the paths that are much lower than the beds.  There is also a lot of pine bark mulch, and other organic matter dug into those beds that make them higher.

    To get the pine chip mulch I use on the top is a matter of sacrificing a couple of pine trees that kept throwing limbs on the roof of my house.  I had the tree people cut them and chip them up – I kept the chips just for this job of mulching the tops of the bets.


  3. Suzy Wert, Indiana
    December 3, 2016 at 10:47 pm

    Yeah, it sounds wonderful, until the bulb orders and trades start arriving in fall, then it all goes downhill, here at least. I *plan* for nice paths, but then I find I need a place to plant all the bulbs, and the paths get tilled with bags and bags of sand, (I already have a lot of organic material in the soil, so I add sand or pea gravel) and planted. I’m lucky if the beds get crowned (meaning highest in the middle and tapering down to all four sides). In any case, the biggest offender is a rectangular bed 40 feet X 30 feet, and I’ll be digging it next year to reset it. My *plan* is to get rid of 50 varieties for those elusive paths, and then also seriously cull from that bed so I can acquire some new ones, but as I’ve said before, it’s hard for me to simply get rid of something I like, show flower, or not.
    Interesting on the pine tree mulch. I only have a few pine trees here, but I bought a whole bunch of pine bark fines a few years ago, for the same purpose. It was *filled* with unhatched stink bug eggs! The following spring, while looking for bulb flies, about 1000 stink bugs hatched all at once. It was a true invasion. I actually had never heard of stink bugs until I caught one and googled it. It didn’t take long to get a name, even though I didn’t know how to search for it, and it isn’t considered a common pest here. Thankfully the beds were well away from the house because the primary complaint about stink bugs is that they are home invaders in the fall! Having my own personal pine trees to mulch would have been really nice, especially that year! Come to think of it, havng even one straight 40 foot bed 4 feet wide would really be great, too! Lucky you! But lucky me, too, because my bulbs are all planted, watered and mulched for the year. All the wheelbarrows, buckets, and planting paraphernalia are put away for the year, and all that’s left are net bags, bulb crates, mailing boxes, markers, etc., which are *inside* my house which need to be organized and packed away in the basement. Pretty good, because the Fall Forum and Thanksgiving really pushed back my planting efforts and I’m so much farther north than you. I was really lucky with the weather!
    Post photos in the spring of that bed, would you? I’d like to see if you plant in rows or blocks. We don’t see many photos of daffodils in a backyard setting.

  4. Clay Higgins, New Jersey
    Clay Higgins, New Jersey
    December 4, 2016 at 6:05 am

    Hi Suzy,

    My arms are short!  They will not reach across a 40 X 30 foot bed, but reach across a 4′ bed so that is why I plant on 4′ wide beds so that I can reach the blooms in the spring. 🙂 My solution when I run out of space to plant is to make new beds.  I also add organic matter each time I prepare a bed for planting.  However, lately, my solution is the give away enough bulbs and I don’t have to make new beds.

    To answer your last question, I plant in rows.  I call it thick planting as I can plant more daffodils that way then trying to make blocks.  A 4′ foot wide bed is 48 inches.  If you do the math, using 6 inch stand-off on each side of the bed, it allows me to plant 7 bulbs in a row across the beds, and I plant the rows 10 inches apart.  I can put a lot of bulbs in a 40′ long bed; and pick the flowers come spring. 🙂

    This bed I posted is the same bed I posted late spring after I dug the bulbs and started my “solarization” of the bed.

    House beds looking east


  5. Margaret Seconi, New Zealand
    Margaret Seconi, New Zealand
    December 4, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    Thanks Clay & Suzy. My two main beds are 5′ and 4′ wide and I’m thinking about digging again this year so your comments, Clay, confirm what I’ve been doing I think. my suburban garden is small so I’ll try & Post a photo or two up for you to see Suzy.

  6. Clay Higgins, New Jersey
    Clay Higgins, New Jersey
    December 5, 2016 at 6:07 am


    It would be good to see your photos of the beds when they bloom. Suzy and I have been trading bulbs for nearly 20 years now.  I’m always glad to see her comments and anyone else.


  7. Suzy Wert, Indiana
    December 8, 2016 at 6:56 am

    I have some pics — my gosh, I have tried and tried to take ones showing the grade elevation changes which I have made here for drainage, but they will not show up on the photos! My backyard is short and wide. The natural swale is 2/3 away from the house, not on the property line as is normal, and everything in the back 1/3 was bushes and a living fence.  The water drainage has to go west away from my house, east away from my neighbor’s onto my property, and then it all goes north to get to the neighborhood low spot where there is a big retention area and a ditch and culvert (both of which are on my property). All of this on 1 3/4 acres.  (This is why my reluctance to have those nice low walkways every 4 feet — the water might pool in them, and not drain away.)

    So I’ve put in a series of drains and pipes, and then brought in 2 huge dumptrucks of soil/sand, just for this one bed which is 15 x 27, not 40 x 30 as I previously stated. The grade looks normal, but it is about 14-18″ higher than the real grade. In a spring with heavy rain, I have the same springiness to my soil that Holland has because these beds are sitting on water. One flag shows the property line, but the flag on the right is where the drain comes out. The second pic shows the bed, and a couple of trenches for water leading to the creek.  These fill completely to the top with rushing water in heavy rain.

    Daffodil 014 16

    Img 1537 16

    But most of my daffodils are actually in the woods in the front yard.

  8. Suzy Wert, Indiana
    December 8, 2016 at 7:22 am

    Here is the woods.  The water floods about 3 1/2-4’o feet deep up to the base of the big tree in flash flood conditions, but it drains down to nothing about 6 hours after the rain stops.  Yes, I do grow daffodils, including Gull, on that hillside which gets flooded because it is still the best drainage on the property, however, this Summer, we had an out of season flood, and I may well be reporting that Gull has died! And yes, all those daffodils are growing in groundcover, and yes the daffodils all have above-ground markers.  The groundcover hides the above-ground markers which I cannot have visible from the street.

    Front woods 2 dec 2016 16

  9. Clay Higgins, New Jersey
    Clay Higgins, New Jersey
    December 8, 2016 at 11:39 am


    My daffodil beds are pretty much on a very gentle slope that is only about 1 foot for my entire property.  So I don’t have a water drain problem.  My problem is that I have “All Sand” and have a hard time maintaining moisture.  That is the reason that I put so much organic matter into my beds that they are naturally raised beds.  I was lucky that when I was in Maryland and had “hard” red clay for a soil, a local gardening contractor showed me that pine fines or pine mulch (the small stuff) does not raise your soil Ph, and does not use up the nitrogen during “break-down of the organic matter” when you dig it into the soil.  It works on sandy soil the same as hard clay in the fact that it makes the soil workable in red clay, and holds moisture in said as well as add the organic matter that daffodils like.

    Without the improvement of the soil, my daffodils start to dwindle after the first year.  Of course it doesn’t hurt that I dig fertilizer, lime and other ingredients into the soil each time I prepare a bed for planting.

    Have you tried putting your walkways, between beds parallel to the natural drain?  As a kid on a farm that’s how we handled it.  Planting crooked beds that flowed with and around the hills instead of straight up and down them. 🙂


  10. Glenna Graves, Virginia
    December 8, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    I am enjoying the soil/planting exchange between you and Suzy…..we all learn in the process. Glenna

  11. Clay Higgins, New Jersey
    Clay Higgins, New Jersey
    December 9, 2016 at 5:38 am

    Hi Glenna,

    Thanks for the comments.  I can’t speak for Suzy, but I kept posting on Daffnet hoping that some one would tell me if I was wrong, or would post a better method.  What I posted works for me, not sure it will work for everyone.  However, the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service has a master gardener training book where they agree with what I say on Pine Bark Mulch.  I’m glad that I joined the master gardeners because they get a “lot” of training free of charge, and it’s all researched information.


  12. David Adams, New Zealand
    December 9, 2016 at 9:30 am

    All our potting mixes are based on pine bark. It must be good.

  13. Clay Higgins, New Jersey
    Clay Higgins, New Jersey
    December 9, 2016 at 10:01 am

    Hi Dave,

    Thanks for the comment.  I have looked at various outlets here in the North Carolina area where they sell potting mixes and I do not fine many with pine bark listed as an ingredient.  Most of them list peat and perlite, or peat and vermiculite and other ingredients that you need a dictionary or encyclopedia to get a definition. I know google, however, I still like hard copy where Wikipedia is not the main source of information.

    However, that same master gardener training manual that I mentioned before has a section where they talk about raising herbaceous plants (flowers), and vegetables in pots of all ground fine pine bark.  I tried it and it works.  However, I like to plant in the ground, probable from the influence of being raised on a farm, so I don’t do it much, just enough to say that it works. I have several “little” gardens at my place along with my many daffodil beds.

    When I plant things like blackberries, raspberries, or blue berries and/or perennials for beautification I use a mixture of my own making; about half from the local potting mix, and half pine bark mulch.  I mix it in my wheel borrow.  That works like a charm also.


  14. Suzy Wert, Indiana
    December 9, 2016 at 11:09 am

    Hi, Glenna! It occurred to me that my non-daffodil friends on facebook are getting sick of my daffodil posts, so I thought I’d try posting on daffnet.

    Clay, Oh, I agree 100% on the pine bark fines — I’ve used it before, both as a mulch for miniatures and as a soil conditioner, we just have such trouble getting it here the last few years! The company supplying the stores like Home Depot sold the bags by volume, and the volume was off on all the bags it shipped by a large margin, so the lawsuits went flying and the stores cancelled their orders. That is the same company furnishing my stinkbugs. Now, nobody carries it….well, maybe they do in spring. I’m a little too busy here in Spring to go shopping and once I’d get many bags, I don’t have a good place for storing them all. Although I am eyeing some of my white pines to see if I can sacrifice any, ala Clay, hahahahaha.  I do not need lime at all, and anything making the soil more acidic is welcome (and short lived).

    Planting in crooked beds — LOL!  I noticed your fine permanent pipes in the group – for laying string, I imagine. I get going, then look back to see what I’ve done, only to realize I am off by a long shot. I did try a “crooked bed”, pic attached, but when they bloom, it’s harder than heck to get used to. On the map, Molly Malone Cook is behind Sky Warrior, except it’s NOT! It’s way off and really, kind of behind Satsuma instead. The main plan was to get paths, or even one single path, but unfortunately, I kept filling up the space “just until next year”, which then becomes a permanent planting. NEXT year (2017) I plan to dig this and can reassess.  I shall be ruthless on getting rid of things, as if that ever happens!, thus leaving room for a path, if not a series of depressed paths as you have.

    The numbers across the bottom are the rows, and then I know to count 1-6 on the side. The location for Maya Dynasty in my database  is BY7 5-15, but just the BY7 is usually enough of a clue for me to find it.

    By map 7 2

    I visited Dan Bellinger’s new place up in Niles, MI this summer, and OMG! I kept looking over the ridge to see if his place was on Lake Michigan! (It’s not even close). I had never seen such pure white sand except at the beach! What was amazing to me is that part of his place is a deciduous woods with real trees — maple, oak, walnut, they are big ones! –  but there is no SOIL there. How do the trees grow?

    If I ever retire to a warmer climate, I would have to reactivate my Master Gardener’s certificate because I would be lost. I don’t know the names of even the most common blooming flowers down there, especially shrubs — much less how to grow them!

    Dave, About 8 years ago, our mixes here have across the board switched from peat based to bark based. It was really hard to get used to, but then the moisture pellets came out, and that helps me a lot. Like Clay, I like to plant in the ground. Pot ghettos are all too easy to accumulate. It gets expensive using bagged mixes for daffodils, though Nancy Pilipuf, whom I have great respect for, puts “a handful” of free draining potting mix in the very bottom of her planting holes. She has different brands up there than I have here, but I’m going to try it next year.


  15. Clay Higgins, New Jersey
    Clay Higgins, New Jersey
    December 9, 2016 at 2:23 pm


    In my area Home Depot, does not carry pine bark mulch anymore either.  However Lowe’s does?  I also find that when you sacrifice a complete pine tree chipped up, if you let it set (in a pile) for a year and water it once in a while, it will start decomposing and after a year or so, it makes the same kind of “good” organic matter as just pine bark mulch.

    The Home Depot locally still used peat based potting soil.  That’s why I buy pine bark mulch from Lowes and mixes it with the Home Depot peat based potting soils. 🙂  I use it to plant just about everything except daffodils.  However, instead of using a pot, I dig a hole about a foot deep and a foot wide, fill it up with my mix, add water until I make a bog and then put the material to be planted in it.  I don’t use pots because it’s so dry here that I have to water them regularly, which means that they will die because I’m not very good at getting out a water hose every couple of days and making artificial rain.




  16. Suzy Wert, Indiana
    December 11, 2016 at 11:09 am

    It’s not even dry here, not by a long shot, and I still can lose things planted in pots by not watering when they need it.  I think Menard’s carries pine bark fines in Spring. Heck, maybe they all carry it in the Spring, but I am in my own little daffodil world and rarely leave to go shopping in April.

    Update on the sacrificial pine tree: Husband says emphatic NO! hahahaha!

    We’re forecasted to be at 5 degrees Wed and Thursday night with no snow cover — this is -15C with no snow cover. Some of my new and fancy tazettas will be put to the test! They are only lightly mulched, but if they have broken ground they have an additional 4-6″ of pine needles on them, but many don’t have that extra cover. Including your Crevette and Harold’s Martha Cash and Little Karen from auction.



  17. Clay Higgins, New Jersey
    Clay Higgins, New Jersey
    December 12, 2016 at 5:29 am


    Tazettas will not stand deep cold. Say good-by to Crevette and the others of the tazetta family. If the foliage gets damaged, try putting some fungicide on them before spring. Sometimes if the foliage doesn’t rot and affect the bulbs, the fungicide will save the bulb for one more year.

    In Maryland when I was in that little pocket of zone 6, I planted them so that they were blocked from the north and added a lot of bark mulch on top. The mostly survived during the bad (cold) winters and did fairly well in the warmer winters.


  18. David Adams, New Zealand
    December 12, 2016 at 10:18 am

    So Suzy, you plant your Crevette, Little Karen etc in pots using bark potting mix. In the winter you do the same as Mary Lou, put the pots dry in the garage or shed. Bring them out as the freezing finishes and let them enjoy a dry sunny summer as long as they get a little moisture. Tazettas don’t mind it hot and dry and in a bark mixture hold enough moisture to survive . I have been told by a miniature expert that he uses cacti and succulent mix for his miniatures. Makes sense to me.


  19. Malcolm Wheeler, New Zealand
    Malcolm Wheeler, New Zealand
    December 12, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    I have to agree with David, I have been growing all my mini’s in polystyrene boxes for a number of years and use only a very good pine bark based potting mix.

    The advantage of these boxes are that they are easily moved and or stacked on top of each other during dormant season, I have to say also that the bulbs love this medium and my results would tend to back this up.

    Don’t be afraid to try it Suzy.


  20. Clay Higgins, New Jersey
    Clay Higgins, New Jersey
    December 13, 2016 at 5:18 am

    I want to thank everyone that commented on this post. I thought I was in a “world” of pine bark mulch by myself, only to find that I am only one of many. Then again, when I teach herbeous plants (Flowers) at the master gardener training program, I also tell them how to make their own potting soil using pine bark. One of the local landscape wholesale stores here locally adds peanut shells to their mix. Plants do well in that peanut shell mix also.


  21. Annette Parker, Louisiana
    December 13, 2016 at 6:00 am

    My original daffodil beds were in hard clay subsoil. My primary soil
    additive was ground pine bark. I used a brand called Hopigro out of
    Arkansas and carried by Lowe’s in LA year round. I also buy this bagged
    product before I need it and allow the bark within the stacked bags
    to break down a bit in the summer heat. As the pieces decay in the soil,
    spaces remain which allow for increased water penetration and gas exchange.
    Gardening in tight black clay now, I still use this pine bark.
    Otherwise, I use other bagged products that are cheap and primarily sand
    and these are mixed with the native clay. Drainage and tight soil are the
    problems here, not nutrients. I have not had bulb rot in Louisiana and
    this is contrary to conventional wisdom. I never fertilize. I could
    speed up bulb increase, but then I would have to deal with weeds.
    Annette Parker Kahn near Washington, Louisiana, USA

  22. Clay Higgins, New Jersey
    Clay Higgins, New Jersey
    December 14, 2016 at 5:19 am

    Hi Annette,

    Good to hear your positive experiences with Pine Bark Mulch. Where is Washington, Louisiana? I have a brother in Delhi, Louisiana, but they don’t pronounce it the way they pronounce Delhi in India. In Louisiana its pronounced more like Deli as in the corner deli.


  23. Vijay Chandhok, Pennsylvania
    December 14, 2016 at 7:09 am

    I am in Delhi India now for a few weeks, the British started calling it Delhi but us locals used to call it Dilli.

    Sent from my iPhone

  24. Clay Higgins, New Jersey
    Clay Higgins, New Jersey
    December 14, 2016 at 8:16 am

    Hi Vijay,

    I have watched your posts over the years with interest.

    How is Delhi, India doing these days? My brother from Delhi, Louisiana, USA, says his Deli is doing fine.


  25. Suzy Wert, Indiana
    December 14, 2016 at 11:17 am

    Weather Update: The cold temperatures dipped down just far enough to include my garden and the freezing rain which had previously been forecasted has turned into 3″ of snow so I am safe for this very cold snap. Good thing, because the ground is frozen, so even if I had wanted to dig those little tazettas, I couldn’t!

    Ok, Pine bark based miniature soil mix it is. I would also say that I asked 3 people (Harold, Bob Spotts and Larry Force) to examine a baggie of my miniature mix (a lot like cactus mix) last Spring, and they did not like it one little bit.  “There is no soil in this!”, was the exact comment, and indeed there was no soil in it. It was the general consensus that soilless mix on its own was a bad idea, so I redid my mix for this year only to talk to Larry Wier in Michigan (who grows Icicle and can keep it alive, blooming and increasing year after year) who says, “fiddlesticks”. Plenty of people successfully grow miniatures in soilless mix, and he was one of them. LOL! I guess we all will figure it out and swear our way is the best way once we get it more or less to our satisfaction. It just takes a long time with daffodils because I don’t dig them every year, and by the time I figure out something is really good, so much time has passed that I’ve forgotten what I used!  I probably should put tags in my baskets to describe the medium I used!

    One thing Dave said alarmed me. Dave, my takeaway on your post is that tazettas do not enjoy the normal autumn rainfall going into winter that all the other daffodils enjoy?  Is this true?  From the very beginning of my daffodil hobby, I learned that we should be watering our rooting bulbs in dry autumns, and nobody ever said, “except tazettas”. In fact, I usually give them extra water because of those jumbo bulbs!  I am pretty sure I also learned that tazettas “never” (meaning “usually don’t”) get basal rot. First off, am I reading correctly about the dry autums, and secondly, are there any others — maybe Div 5 or Div 10, also showing foliage, which don’t care for autumn watering?

    The garage is a great idea if your garage is large enough. I think Naomi or Mary Lou (both have a similar climate to me) said they roll their little wagon filled with pots of miniature bulbs out in the sun on nice days, and rolled it back in at night or freezing days. I do not see how they can get flowers to bloom for local shows – that they wouldn’t bloom way too early – but that’s what one of them told me. Becky Fox Matthews (much warmer than I) said she rigged stationary lights above her wagon, which is of course what I would have to do because it’s so logical and the next step to building a better mousetrap. 🙂  I can’t help but think it’s overkill for 3 or 4 possibly tender miniatures.

    N. dubius is marginally hardy here. Dubiously hardy, you might say. hahaha.  I grew it in the 90s, but then one year it didn’t come up. My thought at the time is they didn’t appreciate a cold winter combined with no snow cover, but that is an assumption on my part.  I figured with N. dubius x Pink China, I’d get one more level of cold hardiness. I guess I’ll know more in spring.

    Malcolm, our frost line is 14″ down, and those little Styrofoam fish coolers above ground would be the kiss o’ death here. It routinely gets -23C (-10F) here.  Sometimes to -29C (-20F).  I’ve often thought the secret to those, in addition to the wide insulated walls, is the color. White pots of any kind in warmer climates are so much better than black pots which get absolutely cooked (parboiled) with the hot sun hits them. Even in early Spring, we can get really hot temps — an 80F day (27C) day — with hot spring sun coming at the Spring angle, it just heats the pots until it’s unbearable for many plants, not just daffodils. I think they’re a great idea for somebody farther south than here – obviously, since so many people in the southern hemisphere use them.

    LOL on the peanut shells, Clay! The squirrels here would be mighty disappointed to smell all that goodness only to find all the shells are empty!

    Annette, I have never seen black clay, and never heard of it!  It sounds wonderful!  Is all over your whole geographic area? Everybody has it? What kinds of commercial crops grow there? Is the pH neutral or acidic? My best clay from the woods is dark brownish gray, but light gray when it’s dry.  If I get heavy handed with the leaf mold compost, then I can get black soil – but its more like the bagged compost you buy in a bag and is way too water retentive, not what you are describing at all. The worst is that after using leafmold to remake a bed (for standards), I am so pleased with myself. Nice and tall and fluffy, but that only lasts for one summer and the whole thing sinks down — collapses  — with worse air than it had before I started!  Now I only use sand with a little compost because sand doesn’t decompose. Maybe some pea gravel for good luck. If I am lucky, I can get a friend with a pick up truck to deliver sand to me, but I noticed they never seem to do it a second time. 😉  Otherwise, I can only carry 12 bags in my car. Of course, now that I am aged, I can only lift 12 bags out of my car and get them laid down, so I guess it works out! 🙂  I did try some of Jason’s Turface (expanded clay) this past summer. I’ll know more next year, I think.  I actually watched them harvesting tulip and hyacinth bulbs at MOBOT one year and it looked like they were growing in 40% Turface, so I used more than most people for a relatively small area. This is not for miniatures, and it’s also not for saving any money. That stuff is expensive!


  26. Annette Parker, Louisiana
    December 14, 2016 at 12:18 pm

    Clay, Suzy, and others:
    Washington, LA, my forever home, is in south central LA. I am about 20
    miles north of Lafayette in an area that was originally all bottom land
    hardwoods. I live above one of the huge natural salt domes. I know of
    Delhi in the other corner of the state. My friend from there said “Dell
    High.”. Let the brother know of our presently forming LA and Mississippi
    combined society.

    This black clay dries brutally hard. It is perfect for growing rice and
    soybeans, both of which border the property. Sugar cane and sorghum are
    also in the area. This is farm country and is known for duck and deer
    hunting. The red clay regions grow fine pine timber, the base of the
    economy. This clay is of neutral pH to slightly basic. I use native soil
    in my daffodil mixes. I never add any type of potting mix.

    There is a difference between surface water above clay and saturated
    soils. I had standing water for 2 weeks or more in the lower area near my
    home during the August floods. The water simply drained away slowly from
    the record rains because the whole region is low. The elevation here is
    below 50 feet. I do not believe that dormant season flooding would hurt
    many daffodils. My italicus were completely covered for more than two
    weeks are are now at six inches high and look great. This is a superior
    plant for the deep south. Years ago, there were record floods in west
    central LA. The water went to nine feet around camps which were destroyed,
    and then returned weeks later to six feet. Historic daffodils, which were
    all that folks in the neighborhood had, were not harmed. These events
    happened in late May and early July. I wonder what the effect would have
    been had the flooding occurred in the growing season.

    The weeds this far south could outgrow miniatures overnight. Raised,
    boxed beds solve the
    weed, drainage, and compaction issues. South LA presents a constant
    struggle against the forces of nature.

    Annette Parker Kahn

  27. Clay Higgins, New Jersey
    Clay Higgins, New Jersey
    December 14, 2016 at 2:45 pm


    The times that I have spent in Delhi, LA, it seems all the local people that my brother and his wife knows, all call it Deli. I guess not everyone.

    I have never seen black clay either, but the red hard clay of Maryland where I used to live with always hardened in the summer to the consistency of asphalt Paved Roads, that’s why I went looking for something to made the soil workable. That’s also why I chose to use pine bark mulch. However, we had a problem with the hard red clay that seems to be a problem with you also in the fact that your black clay drains slowly. We called it the bath tub effect, in the fact that red clay will pretty well hold water and drains very very slowly. I know of some public parks or gardens that to build ponds brought in red clay and compacted it at the bottom so hold water. We had 18 inches of red clay, therefore I had to do one of two things to grow daffodil and keep them from rotting in the dampness. Several large beds I used bridge lumber to make sides 18 to 24 inch deep and put top soil in the beds with drains running under the beds. Secondly, I used a back-hoe and dug one large area down to about 24 inches and turned over the soil and mixed in about 3 dump truck loads of pine bark mulch into the turned soil, plus some chalk for better electrolytes. That became my best bed, with good drainage as the red clay no longer caused the bath room effect. Back around 2000 to 2003 I posted on daffnet about using a back-hoe a couple times, but I think no one believed me. It’s not so costly when you can rent the back-hoe and have the skills to operate it. I learned on the farm as a kid to operate anything from a horse drawn plow, to a back-hoe, to a D-8 Caterpillar tractor.

    You said the soil where you live is a struggle. I have yet to live somewhere that the soil is not a struggle. You adjust to it, and learn to grow things in it.


  28. Clay Higgins, New Jersey
    Clay Higgins, New Jersey
    December 14, 2016 at 3:01 pm


    That’s quite an epistle that you wrote.

    Tazetta’s should never be watered in the fall. Water is their signal to start growing as they do not need the winter cold to head toward blooming. I also try to plant my tazetta’s late and they still have a habit of throwing up foliage that gets nipped by the frost.

    Soilless mixes are wonderful. I said earlier that you can grow vegetables and flowers etc., in pine bark mulch alone. We have a mix here that is available commercially that has no soil and to get it at the location in Elizabeth City, NC you have to ask for the “Master gardener blend.” It is one of those mixes that uses peanut shells that animals don’t seem to bother, but a lot of pine bark mulch, quite a bit of horse “biscuits”, peat, vermiculite, etc. I find it’s only drawback is that it is Very-Very thirsty. Needs lots of watering. I’m not good at watering regularity with a hose in the summer and have reverted to using drip irrigation on a timer. It works better that way once you have the drip irrigation down pat. I don’t lose so much to dry now as I did before. But I killed (died from thirst) all my N. cyclamineus before I learned how to do it properly.

    As far as the garage is concerned, I don’t have that kind of a garage, but I have a canvas car garage that is open air and I use it to store bulbs outside in the summer. I find that pots of division 5 miniatures, tazettas, etc, that need to be very dry in the summer do very well under that canvas. I let the tazettas sit there until I’m ready to take down the canvas for the winter before I put them out. I tried that on some N. cantabricus this year and the little suckers didn’t seem to need moisture at all as they put up blooms only 6 weeks from me setting them out.


  29. David Adams, New Zealand
    December 15, 2016 at 8:59 am

    My experience with tazettas is that they have foliage almost 12 months of the year. In order to force them to flower they need a good, hot, dry baking in the summer hence the need to keep water away. From mid autumn on they obviously need moisture for that season’s growth. Mind you with the addition of poeticus based hybrids into modern breeding programmes the requirements of today’s tazettas are probably way different to the originals.