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The Star 29 Gardening Timing bulb flowering not an exact science • By Paul Hoek CAN BULB flowering be timed for special occasions? More often than not, this question is asked in relation to a wedding. And I can understand why – growing your own tulips, lilies or other bulbs would save money and look fantastic in bouquets or in the background of photos. Unfortunately, the timing of bulbs flowering is heavily reliant on nature. And, as Cyclones Cook and Debbie have recently reminded us, nature and weather can be fickle and hard to predict. So, the question of timing flowering for special occasions is one that is pretty well impossible for us to answer accurately. What I can do, is give you a bit more information about spring and summer flowering bulbs to help you decide whether or not it’s doable for your particular situation and region. Spring flowering bulbs In a nutshell, spring flowering bulbs (like tulips, hyacinths and daffodils) can’t just be planted later to make them flower later. Without any artificial chilling, these bulbs have to be planted in autumn (makes no difference at which point in autumn) as they require all the chilling that comes Latest Christchurch news at www. MAJESTIC: Summer bulbs such as gladioli and lilies don’t need cold weather to trigger flowering. with winter. Exactly when they flower will depend on how cold the winter is, how much rain there is, and how early or late spring comes. The only way to make spring bulbs flower later than normal is to plant them in pots and hold them in a chiller, progressively lowering the temperature from 9 deg C to 0 deg C over a period of 10 weeks. Then hold them at zero and take them from the chiller two to three weeks before you want them in full flower. This approach won’t work with unplanted bulbs. To make potted spring bulbs flower earlier, you can use the chilling method above and simply take them out early rather than late. But there’s only a small window in which you can make them flower earlier. Tulips can’t be chilled until late March because the immature buds inside the bulbs need to reach a certain development stage before they’re ready. And, they need to be chilled for a minimum of 12 weeks. So August would be the earliest you could get tulips to flower – around three to four weeks ahead of normal. For potted daffodils and hyacinths you can start chilling earlier, in early March, and have flowers in early July. You can also get unplanted bulbs to flower earlier. But instead of putting them in at 9 deg C, you can put them straight in at 4 deg C. Do this in late March and then plant them out in late May, they’ll flower at least a month earlier than normal. Summer flowering bulbs Summer flowering bulbs (like gladioli and lilies) are a little easier to manipulate into flowering earlier or later, as they don’t require a cold period to trigger their flowering. To make them flower earlier or later you can plant them earlier or later from July right up to Christmas – but only if you keep the bulbs in a good condition. The eventual difference in flowering time will not be as great as the variation in planting time from July to December. This is because the soil and growing conditions are cold in July to September, and bulbs planted at that .kiwi Thursday June 1 2017 time will progress much slower than bulbs planted in October or November. Likewise, bulbs planted in December will flower much quicker as they are doing all their growing in warm soil and summer temperatures. Nevertheless, planting from July to December will see a spread of flowering times over around two to three months. So, as you can see – forcing bulbs to flower for a set time or a special occasion is by no means an exact science. But if it’s still something you’re interested in, I leave you two questions to think about. Firstly, will it ruin the big day if the bulbs haven’t flowered yet, or are already past their best? And secondly, is it worth the risk? – NZ Bulbs getting A little chilly? loAd up now for winter “On Fire” Wood pellet fuel Our price $10.30 - 15kg bAg - thAt’s 69c per kg And we loAd them in to your boot free of chArge Landscape Lane (off Lunns Rd) P. 348 2915 OPEN 7 DAYS Remember... we are NOT in Parkhouse Road The magazine for gardeners who like To geT Their hands dirTy www.gardener.kiwi 100% ROSE PRUNING Prunings removed LEAF BLOWING Leaves removed Phone Milton 366 1499 NO GREEN WASTE IN ANY OF OUR COMPOST YOU WOULDN’T SEE BETTA STRAWBERRY PLANTS ANYWHERE! StrawbErry aLbIoN bEgINS croppINg EarLy aNd coNtINuES IN fLuShES uNtIL autumN. thE hEaVy cropS of mouth watErINg, SwEEt, dark rEd bErrIES haVE aN outStaNdINg fLaVour that rEmaINS coNSIStENt throughout thE SEaSoN. quEEN’S Sat & moN bIrthday SpEcIaL paNSIES & VIoLaS Bettaplants 1934-2017 83 YEARS IN BUSINESS $2.50 pottEd pLaNtS $3.50 pack of 8 27 Ottawa Road Phone: 389-7855 Hours: 8.00am-5.30pm Mon to Fri 8.00am-5.00pm Sat