It's time to get back to my gardening journal. The intent of my write is to help gardeners in Tucson that are either questioning if a plant will grow here or help out new gardeners who are trying to figure out what to buy in the market. This is a priority to me because right now stores are going to be putting out boxes and boxes of bulbs and other fun things to put in our gardens. A person may ask, "Can we even grow such things in the desert?" And my answer is a whole hearted, "Yes." I'll share with you some of my experiences with these plants and what does and does not do well here in Tucson. There are a couple of things you need to know first.
The BULB RULES
- You can buy bulbs now, but do not plant. Keep them in a dry and shady place.
- If there are bulbs in the ground right now, but no foliage, be careful not to overwater and cause the existing bulbs to rot.
- Be patient. Ground temps need to be at least 50 degrees F before anything starts leafing out(I'm specifically speaking about caladiums and elephant ears here)
- Once summer arrives and the plants leaf out, they will need to be watered regularly....sometimes daily. Some are more high maintenance than others.
- Most bulbs, etc enjoy morning sun but struggle in afternoon sun not the heat. Cannas are the exception.
- Did I mention water?:)
- My recommendation is to put all tubers, bulbs, corns, and rhyzomes in pots because they require more water:)
- Things generally start taking off the middle of May and into June.
- Many bulbs once established love a good fertilizer......manure seems to work wonders.
- Do not separate newer baby plants from the bulbs until it's warm enough to transplant.
- Bulbs like loose soil.
- Asian markets that sell "taro" roots, which are delicious by the way fried, are also a variety of elephant ears. If Wal-Mart or other gardening places don't have them, think outside the box and buy some large and healthy taro roots. Sometimes it's cheaper than buying them at the gardening center.
- Be wary of ordering online. Bulbs come well packaged but you end up spending too much money for the tiny bulbs in the mail. In my opinion, it's wasted money. Be patient and keep your eyes open at the garden centers. They'll come:)
There is so much information to share with you all during this time of year. I wish I had people there for me when trying all this stuff out, but it hasn't been lost. I've kept the data and am sharing it with you all so that you may have a better success trying out these fun and exciting plants. They make wonderful fillers and add that beautiful tropical foliage you seek in your desert garden. Stay tuned for the next series of posts on bulbs and related plants. Remember, ALWAYS have a place for them in the garden. Plan out the areas well before going shopping or you'll waste A LOT of money. Until tomorrow, stay tuned for the Elephant Ear and the many varieties. There will also be a follow up post on Alocasia vs. Colocasia. Until next time......