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jackie_o_gw

DON'T make this mistake with your seedlings!

jackie_o
12 years ago

Okay, so learn from my mistake! The Appleblossom seedlings I posted last week are all good, but the biggest and oldest ones - the ones that I keep checking every day for scapes - the ones I thought might bloom soon - well shoot!

It was nice and warm here yesterday so I finally got around to taking them out of the long windowbox planter I had them in. They had pulled themselves down into the dirt far enough that I couldn't see much of the bulbs. I did see all the babies they had split off into.

I got the whole thing out of the planter and started trying to separate them. That's when I found that even though there were great white roots and lots of babies, the mother bulbs were rotting and almost hollow. I don't know why. I didn't overwater them.

It was almost like if you've seen dahlia tubers at the end of the season. The biggest bulbs sometimes look hollow and "used up" if that makes sense. I don't know if this is from an insect when they were outside last summer. The odd thing is, it's only these ones that were all together. The ones that were in the separate cups were also outside all summer, but they're okay.

Just wanted to let you know and see if anyone has any thoughts about this.

Thanks guys.

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Comments (19)

  • gmwill
    12 years ago

    First, I am a newbie. So, please take my comments with a grain of salt. I read it somewhere that you want to seperate the babies from the mother bulb when possible. Otherwise, the babies may be "feeding" off the mother bulb and cause the mother bulb to lose her own health.

    Just a thought. Note that all my bulbs at this moment are from this past shopping season. I am yet to experience the many challenges to come. -GM

  • npublici
    12 years ago

    Jackie, all those pots look to be non draining.I have managed to nearly kill some hippeastrum,myself by growing them in poor drainage conditions.I can't tell for sure what your medium is. It looks in the photo like peat.It looks like it would hold a lot of water.I use a great deal more perlite in my mix,than it appears you have.If the fertilizer salts build up enough they could burn the upper portion of the bulb and weaken it to microbes.The salts tend to concentrate toward the top of the medium in a non draining container.The salts have nowhere to go in a non draining container.It could just be you've had some rotten luck,and another time the same conditions would have worked just fine.I would certainly break those apart and plant them seperately. I would love to be fortunate enough to have selfed Apple Blossom seedlings! I have seen bulbs which looked that bad bloom perfectly. Unless the center of the mother bulb is rotten down to the basal area,there is hope for a bloom in a bulb the size that appears to be. A captan slurry goes a long way, after the babies are pulled away.
    Good luck with your worthwhile endevour. You have a true rarity, which many have wished for, these many years of crossing.
    Del

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  • jackie_o
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    GM I was wondering just that about the babies!

    Del thanks for responding. All is not lost because the rest of them are okay (see my other post).
    The containers they are in now are the ones I just potted them in yesterday. They have plastic liners and packing peanuts in the bottoms of each container. What they had been in is a very long, deep plastic window box planter with holes in the bottom for drainage.

    Do you think I really need to separate the babies from the mother bulbs?

  • cindeea
    12 years ago

    jackie-I found you can take them when tiny or large. Does not seem to matter. I usually wait until the bulbil has at leat one of it's own roots before removing from mommie bulb, however, I do have some that I leave clustered together and it seems to not retard either bulb.

    gmwill - remember one thing WE HAVE ALL BEEN Newbies at one time and we appreciate your learning process and also your contributions from a new angle! We take everyone with a GRIN of salt and a Margharita, too please! Please pipe up whenever the notion hits you!

    jackie-you make a valid point. Death by drowning is an amaryllis bulb's biggest fear. I do have some of my bloomers in non draining vessels since I like bringing them in doors when in bloom. But leaving them in non draining pots means doom in the long run. I move mine to better containers after they bloom.

    Hope my comments are helpful!

  • phoenixryan
    12 years ago

    Did someone say margarita? Pass the salt!

    IMHO I'd remove those babies as soon as you possibly can. No sense draining mama-bulb if you don't have to.

  • mariava7
    12 years ago

    NBF...Narcissus Bulb Fly

  • jackie_o
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    Oh crap! Maria that's what is was. I googled narcissus bulb fly and when I saw the picture of the adult my heart sank.

    Two days ago I saw that exact adult fly on my front inside window. I thought it was a bee and tried to swat it. I stunned it and it fell on the sill where I got a good look at it (it was buzzing louder than any bee I've seen). I work at an arboretum and I told my one of the horticulturists about it. I said "it looked like a fly, but with yellowish fuzz like a bee" and she said "oh I bet it was an imposter bee".

    I wondered how it got in my house and at this time of the year (still very cold). Now I know it was living in my bulbs all season.

    Now I'm REALLY grossed out too, because I used my fingers to scrape away what I thought was rot. Now I know it was excrement

    EWWWWWWWWW

    Now the question is, how many of them are there and how do I keep all my other bulbs safe? Do I forfit all these Appleblossom babies?

  • jodik_gw
    12 years ago

    My opinion, for what it's worth, is that we have a combination of things going on here... first, we have babies sapping energy from Mommy... and then we have a rather collapsed, peaty soil in a container with possibly poor drainage? Del is correct about accumulated salts and minerals from fertilizers, and even possibly your water, having nowhere to go... without drainage holes to leach out, these salts eventually build up to intolerable levels.

    We also have lots of bulbs growing very close together, giving fungi plenty of places to grow. This wouldn't be such a problem in a garden, but a container environment is an entirely different ballgame!

    Narcissus Bulb Fly is always a concern in areas where it's prevalent. Without seeing the bottom of the basal plate and any entrance/exit holes, I can't know if that's a possibility, but it could be.

    As for the packing peanuts in the bottom of a container... that's a no-no! It creates a "perched water table" where the soil and packing material meet, causing that peat soil to hold water and not allow it to drain all the way to the bottom or out any drainage holes. A medium should be one layer only, filling the whole pot, top to bottom. If you need something to hold the soil so it doesn't flow out the drainage holes, use a small piece of screen to cover any drainage holes. Using a separate layer of anything in a pot other than soil serves no purpose, and is actually detrimental.

    In conclusion, I think you have one or more of these things working against you. I'm sure you've read a few of my posts preaching clay pots and a more gritty, porous, sharp-draining inorganic medium... I also tend to preach about watering techniques... it's always best to err on the dry side when watering, and wait longer in between waterings. I think you could really benefit from giving some of my ideas a try... or at least, considering some of them.

    And of course, there are those Apple Blossom blooms in that urn I adore so much... they just look so wonderful together!

    Jackie, please go to the link I've posted at the bottom here, and read the article contained in the post... it will help explain everything you need to know about soils, drainage, perched water tables, and why it's so important to provide root-saving aeration with a grittier and more inorganic medium! I find it especially useful information for bulb growing!

    I wish you the best of luck with your lovely Apple Blossoms... so, please... please read the article in the link below... I think it will help answer some of your questions. :-)

    Here is a link that might be useful: Container Soils - Water Movement & Retention VI

  • mariava7
    12 years ago

    The damage is done. The NBF larvae lived and fed of the main seedling's bulb. That is why they are hollow. You can seperate the babies or just let them be until they have grown more. They will be fine. The used to be NBF larvae is now flying aound somewhere.

    I have tried SEVERAL systemic insecticides to fight NBF to no avail. If anybody finds one that works, please inform me. I have lost some bulbs to NBF. Some are treasured ones, some are replaceable ones. Oh well, Life goes on...

  • e36yellowm3
    12 years ago

    Oh Jackie, how sad. I'm sorry to hear :-( It looks like your bulbs don't spend the winter outside based on your zone. Where do you think the bulb fly got in that bulb? In the house? Yuck.

    On a brighter note, an imposter bee - is that a wanna Bee?
    Alana

  • npublici
    12 years ago

    Jackie, I didn't think it was necessary to go into detail,but the points have been brought up,so I'll state my opinion in detail. Removing offsets from the mother plant,will increase it's chances of survival, slightly. Removeing the offsets will decrease their chances of survival, slightly. The reason I think it best to remove the offsets, is that there is a place where rot can hide, between the offsets and the mother bulb. Once rot starts ,for any reason, it needs to be cleaned up and treated.You can't do that with the offsets growing on the mother bulb. If ,for no better reason,seperate the bulbs,to save them from destroying each other. If, indeed, the mother bulb continues to decline,It will try to produce offsets,before it dies,if there are none present. Past a certain unknown point,it will rapidly decline as more energy is put into the offsets. On a healthy bulb,I believe it is best to leave offsets,until they are Quite large.It is rare that a bulb will not root ,as long as it has the most minute portion of a basal plate,and it's not overwatered. It all depends on what you want to happen,try to save the mother,grow the offsets on,or try to do both. The basal plate of hippeastrum bulbs is the most important part of all.The rest will all grow back. Good luck.
    Del

  • phoenixryan
    12 years ago

    Thank you, Del. You answered a number of questions that a newbie like me wouldn't even know to ask.

  • e36yellowm3
    12 years ago

    Hi Del - thanks for the info - I think we all appreciate it. Can you define the "quite large" that the bulblet should get? Is there a rule of thumb for size or leaves or anything? Thanks. Alana

  • jackie_o
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    Thanks everybody for the encouragement/sympathy/advice lol.

    Just so I'm clear about this one more time - I only put the bulbs in these yellow pots on SUNDAY. It's a temporary situation until I can put them outside when it gets warm enough.

    All of the other seedlings I showed you in my other post are great - perfect. I didn't overwater and the medium was good. It really WAS the narcissus bulb fly because I saw the EXACT thing on the window Sunday. Really.

    I just have such a dilemma now because

    1. I don't know if it layed any eggs before I got rid of it (and can you believe this - I thought it was a bee so I didn't want to kill it and just put it outside)

    2. I still don't know if it will help, but I've got the affected bulbs locked in a room by themselves to sequester them away from the other bulbs

    3. Will I put them outside again this summer? I really need to get them out of the house in order to open the windows! I don't think I can rig anything up to keep insects out. It would just be too complicated I think.

    No more seeds for me! Too much can happen after you wait that long! You guys that keep up with it are awesome.

  • npublici
    12 years ago

    Alana, Quite large is as widely varied as the size of the mother bulbs.I have adult Hippeastrum bulbs from 3/4 inch to several inches across. I suppose that, ignoring container size,1/2 the size of the mother might be a good rule of thumb. You certainly would want to remove an offset before it heaves the mother out of the ground on one side,which it does sometimes. It is much a personal preference,how much time you have for maintainance,and how many hippeastrum you have. Also,some varieties don't like to be disturbed and it may delay or cause a missed years blooming. In todays hybrids it isn't as much a problem as it can be in species and older hybrids.
    Jackie, unless the narcissus fly had a mate you didn't see,it's unlikely there are eggs. I don't believe they self fertilize.
    Del

  • jackie_o
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    Thank you Del. I'm glad to hear that. Crossing my fingers that all will be well moving forward.

  • jodik_gw
    12 years ago

    I'm sorry, Jackie... I probably misread parts of your post... I was attracted to the photos. I don't mean to preach the way I do... it's just that I have encountered so many rot issues that I always try to lay out all the info so someone else might be spared. Forgive me! :-)

    Looking at your mother bulb surrounded by babies has made me a bit fearful of re-potting my original Minerva... now I'm not sure what I'll find or how I'll handle it if she doesn't survive. She's a special bulb to me.

    As for baby bulblets without roots... I just went through that in the Series I posted, and that rootless baby is really taking off now! All it took was a tad bit of rooting hormone powder and some bottom heat.

    I believe both the mother bulbs and the babies can be saved, in many cases, just as I have grown detached babies that had no roots and no obvious basal plates. Once the mother bulb is alone in her pot, given good care, she should bounce back... I would think.

    I'm very sorry that your bulbs were attacked by NBF, Jackie... I hope it doesn't discourage your love for bulb growing...

  • jackie_o
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    Jodi no apology necessary, I just wanted to be clear about the cause of this one. You are very kind and generous with great advice.

    All of the smaller attached bulbs had a lot of roots as well as the mother bulbs. They were also different from babies on my adult "bought" hippis. In those cases I've never removed the babies because they are so much a part of the mother bulb that they would require slicing and I've always been afraid of that. With these seedling offshoots, they are not as connected to the mother, if that makes any sense. They pulled off easily and had roots of their own.

    I don't know if that's how seedlings work or if that's a result of the narcissus bulb fly. It's all very interesting!

    I still love bulbs and my Dancing Queens just opened up yesterday (now THAT's a glorious sight), but I'm not going to start any more seeds.

    Of course I say that today, but if/when some of these babies bloom, if they are pretty, I may change my mind lol.

  • jodik_gw
    12 years ago

    I have found that different varieties grow their offsets a bit differently... some grow lots of babies from almost under the mother bulb, and take longer to grow their own root systems, while others only grow one at a time, and they seem to have their own root system sooner. Some snap right off the mother bulb, while others need to be gently cut away.

    Perhaps, knowing it was dying, it pushed out babies faster in an effort to leave progeny... and because they were feeding heavily from the mother bulb, they grew roots faster. Of course, I'm not certain about this... but Mother Nature has a wonderful way of preserving itself with future generations.

    When I began growing bulbs, I didn't even think about the possibility of breeding them and obtaining seed to plant... but here I am, with seedlings of different ages and plans to create a decent program of it all. Who knew?!