Heirloom Bulbs & Garden History  •  So Much More Than New
October 2014
Oct
16
2014

How Do Your Dahlias Grow
in the HOT South and Southwest?

How Do Your Dahlias Grow in the HOT South and Southwest? – www.OldHouseGardens.com
heat-tolerant ‘Thomas Edison’ –which in real life is a deeper, much truer purple!

In the highlands of Mexico where dahlias originated, the nights are always cool, and most varieties today still need those cool night temperatures to grow and bloom well.

Some are more heat-tolerant, though, and we recommend these through zone 8 in the South and Southwest – as noted in our dahlia chart.

To expand our list of heat-tolerant dahlias, we’d like to hear from you if you garden in zone 8 or warmer in the South or Southwest. Which of our dahlias have thrived for you, and which haven’t?

Here’s one recent success story from zone-8b Mobile. Our good customer Glenda Snodgrass emailed us last November to say her mother-in-law, Barbara Adair, bought a ‘Thomas Edison’ dahlia with a gift certificate Glenda had given her. “I told her dahlias couldn’t be grown in Mobile, but she said her mother always had dahlias here, and I’ve had to eat some crow because it bloomed last week and it’s beautiful!”

Barbara grew her dahlia in a large clay pot on her deck. (Pots can be tough for dahlias, but see our Bulbs in Pots page for tips.) “North side, full sun in morning, some shade during the day, until late afternoon full sun,” she explained. By mid-October the plant was six feet tall and the first flower opened. “It’s a darker purple than in your catalog,” Barbara wrote, “a real beauty!”

Read more success stories and tips at our Dahlias for Hot Nights page.

And please help us guide other gardeners by telling us how our dahlias have done for you in the heat of the Deep South and Southwest. Thanks!

Oct
16
2014

Snowdrops at Warp Speed

Snowdrops at Warp Speed – www.OldHouseGardens.com

“Well, here’s a cool thing,” our good customer Nancy McDonald emailed us last March. Nancy gardens in zone-5a Grand Marais, Michigan, a mile from Lake Superior, where the annual snowfall averages over 11 feet (yes, 11 feet!).

“Three days ago my snowdrops were covered with more than a foot of snow. Two days ago the snow melted. Yesterday they had little green and white spears sticking up. Today the stems are long enough that the buds are starting to hang over. If it’s warm enough tomorrow, I bet some of them will open. That’s zero to sixty in only three days. Incredible!”

To speed your spring with snowdrops, order yours now!

Oct
16
2014

To Protect Your Lilies, Plant Alliums

To Protect Your Lilies, Plant Alliums – www.OldHouseGardens.com

Our good customer Amy Reynolds of Saint Louis, Missouri, emailed us this helpful tip:

“Your lily bulbs are fabulous! I popped them in the ground immediately. To protect them from an abundant local rodent population, I’ve planted them (as I always do with lilies) with several allium companions. I’ve found that squirrels and chipmunks won’t excavate past the alliums to get to nearby lily bulbs while they’re dormant, and the rabbits won’t go near allium foliage come spring.”

To try this yourself, why not order a few of our fabulous lilies and alliums right now?

Oct
16
2014

Organic Bulbs: Dutch Farmers Growing Greener

Organic Bulbs: Dutch Farmers Growing Greener

I was surprised to see tulips instead of something edible on the cover of this month’s Organic Gardening. Inside, our friend Marty Ross explores the growing movement to adopt greener practices in the Dutch bulb fields – with several comments from our long-time Dutch friend and supplier Carlos van der Veek.

“Tulips represent 50% of the billions of flower bulbs grown every year in the Netherlands,” Marty writes. “At present, only a small percentage of them are grown organically. . . . But in Holland, attitudes and practices have begun to change.” Wilbrord Braakman, a leader in the movement, “has been growing bulbs organically for about 25 years. In the best years, his harvest exceeds that of conventional growing methods, he says. Braakman also teaches classes for growers who are interested in limiting their use of pesticides and in improving their soil.”

“Conventional growers are following the organic trend with considerable interest,” Marty adds, quoting our friend Carlos van der Veek. “‘I have open eyes to use as few chemicals as possible,’ and most growers feel the same way, Van der Veek says. The growers who follow completely organic practices ‘are true pioneers, and hopefully they will find ways of better growing which can be used by the whole industry.’”

As Braakman says at the end of the article, “We, the farmers, have it in our hands.” Read the whole article here.

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