November, 2012
Regional Report

Read Fertilizer Instructions When Bulb Planting

Different brands of bulb fertilizers are made with different materials. Some types are water-soluble and dissolve quickly. Other mineral-based combinations take more time to break down. Carefully follow package directions. Some bulb fertilizers are formulated to sprinkle on the soil over the bulb. They might damage the bulb and roots if in direct contact. On the other hand, bone meal works best sprinkled in the bottom of the planting hole below the bulb.

Take Photos to Help You Remember

Every season I'm surprised by beautiful and fascinating (often accidental) plant combinations. Likely the same for you. Photographing the garden vignettes is an easy and accurate way to record them for duplication or variations next year.

Beware Scarlet Leaves of Three

Poison ivy leaves turn eye-catching orange, yellow, or scarlet in autumn. Be careful when removing colorful vines and leaves during fall gardening and yard cleanups. Poison ivy blends right in. We often find poison ivy growing along with English ivy and wild grapevine.

Clip Off Dead Oriental and Asian Lily Stems

When lily stems and leaves are brown, carefully cut the stems off an inch or two above ground level. Don't tug at the stem. Pulling the stem will likely pull the bulb out of the soil. This dead plant debris -- bugless and disease-free stem and leaves -- is fine for the compost pile.

Separate Overgrown Lily Bulbs

If you see clusters of lily bulblets at the stem base, it's time to separate them from the large, main bulb deeper in the soil. Use a shovel, not a hand trowel, to dig deep and lift out the array of bulbs and bulblets. Push the shovel blade deeply into the soil about six inches from the stem. Carefully heave out the clump, which likely contains dozens of small and medium sized bulbs. Shake off the soil. Separate the bulbs. Replant the largest mother bulb in the original hole at a depth about three times the bulb's height. Plant the smaller bulbs at least six inches apart elsewhere in the garden.

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