Spring may have just made its formal entrance in the Northern Hemisphere but it's already time to prepare my Southern California cutting garden for summer. We've had episodes of warm weather at intervals over the past couple of months. Some of my cool season flowers like Camellia williamsii and Scilla peruviana have already exited while others, like the Osteospermum, show signs they're feeling the heat and may be preparing for an early exit. Still others, like the calla lilies (Zantedeschia aethiopica), may be skipping the spring season altogether, going underground in lieu of wasting energy on blooms.
Yesterday may have been our warmest day yet this year and we're expecting more of the same today.
|86F (30C) wasn't miserable but it is hot!|
I received an order of dahlia tubers by mail last week but, with the raised planters in my cutting garden full of spring bloomers, I faced my usual quandary about how to juggle plants so I can get as much as possible from the spring crop while getting my summer bloomers geared up for an early display.
|Viewed from this angle, there doesn't appear to be a lot of empty space available in my cutting garden|
Although it's not the optimal approach, I elected to start the dahlia tubers in good-sized plastic pots. In addition to the 8 tubers received by mail, I pulled out another 8 tubers I'd saved from last year's stock.
For reference, here's the list of tubers I potted up:
- 'Akita' (2 saved tubers), red/yellow flowers
- 'Azteca' (1 new tuber), orange flowers
- 'Bahama Mama' (1 new tuber), pink & yellow flowers
- 'Bluetiful' (1 new tuber), lavender flowers
- 'Break Out' (1 saved tuber), pink flowers
- 'Candlelight' (1 new tuber), orange & yellow flowers
- 'Enchantress' (1 saved clump), fuchsia & white flowers
- 'Gitt's Crazy' (2 saved tubers), bronze/purple flowers
- 'Iceberg' (1 saved clump), white flowers
- 'La Luna' (1 new tuber), pale yellow flowers
- 'Mikayla Miranda' (1 new tuber), lavender/pink flowers
- 'Pink Petticoat' (1 new tuber), pink & white flowers
- 'Southern Belle' (1 gift tuber), coral/pink flowers
- 'Summer's End' (1 saved clump), peach flowers
Once they sprout, my plan is to move the dahlias to larger quarters. If all 16 tubers sprout, that's a lot of plants to juggle but there are 2 duplicates and, if those sprout, I'll give the extras away. That leaves only 14 plants in need of spots.
Despite my best intentions, I was late in sowing seeds and planting bulbs and plugs for spring blooms. My sweet pea seeds, anemone corms, and ranunculus tubers didn't go in until late October. The love-in-a mist, lace flower, and larkspur seeds weren't sown until early December. Late fall was generally cold but also dry, and our winter rain was disappointing to say the least. Whatever the reason, floral production has been relatively slow in my cutting garden (if not elsewhere in my garden). Some of my spring-flowering plants still show promise but I'm already willing to give up on others in favor of space for dahlias and other summer-flowering plants.
|Viewed from this angle, you can see some openings, especially in the middle raised planter|
|As the foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea) and Nigella papillosa are only just getting started, I'm loathe to pull any of them but there are 2 raggedy golden feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) that could be replaced by dahlias here|
|The first foxglove bloomed this week. Self-seeded Nigella orientalis 'Transformer' is almost done but N. papillosa, sown from seeds I saved last year, is only now developing buds.|
|Closeups of Delphinium elatum 'Morning Light' and salmon and yellow Ranunculus blooms|
|Plants currently in bloom in this bed include a variety of Anemone coronaria, Lathyrus odoratus, and Cuphea 'Honey Bells' ('African Blue Basil' isn't shown in closeup here)|
Dahlia tubers can take well over a month to sprout so there's no immediate need to clear space. My initial focus will be monitoring the plastic pots to ensure the tubers don't get either too wet or too dry. Cold, wet soil can cause the tubers to rot but tubers in plastic pots can quickly dry out too. However, once the tubers show signs of life, the juggling will begin. I've already identified 8 possible spots in the raised planters for dahlias, as well as additional spots in half-barrels and large terracotta pots. I should be able to accommodate the dahlias. Now I need to grapple with the problem of how to give my zinnia and sunflower seeds a head start...
All material © 2012-2022 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party
Nice. This is the time of year (February through mid-March) when I'm truly jealous. We're having a very slow spring this year. Usually March has more blooms. Thanks for sharing the color and hope of your garden. :)ReplyDelete
I expect I'll be very envious of your weather by the time summer settles in, Beth. The heat seems to arrive earlier and hang on longer with each passing year.Delete
You have a wonderful cutting garden; it so well organized and meticulous. Any chance you could squeeze another raised bed in this area? Or is it a case of always having more plants than the available space to plant them? I know that feeling :-DReplyDelete
There isn't space for another raised planter the size of the other 3 (all of which came with the garden); however, on the same wavelength, I previously added 2 half-barrels. Those are currently filled with spring bloomers (snapdragons and calendulas among other things) but dahlias and zinnias will displace those eventually. It may be time to add a third barrel to replace the smaller terracotta pots I currently have, though ;)Delete
86, wow! We hit 67 yesterday which felt amazing. So I have a question. Why do you keep the hoops over the raised beds? I assume they are in place for frost cloth, maybe shade cloth? Do you ever use them? Just curious...ReplyDelete
(SIGH), 67F is the perfect temperature for working in the garden. The metal hoops were formerly part of the wood-fired snorkel spa we inherited with the house - you may remember that spa, which we removed in early 2014. I stuck the hoops in the raised planters, thinking they might come in handy if I needed to cover them to provide protection from bugs, critters or intense sun but I never have...Delete
Whew! that's toasty. Shaping up to be another odd Spring. I was once again admiring your 'Sticks on fire', gorgeous colouration. I tried a new method of storing my dahlia tubers last year and they have all come through. I have almost 200 so the conundrum is 'What to do with all?"ReplyDelete
200!!! My impression is that you have significantly more room in which to garden, Elaine, but that's a lot to plant and care for unless you have a small army of helpers ;) While my climate allows me to leave dahlia tubers in the ground, I pull them up at the end of the season too as I use the raised beds for spring-flowering plants. I only store my favorite tubers - and I do still have some I haven't potted up (yet). I've toyed with offering my "extras" to neighbors but I'm concerned I won't have many takers unless I get them to at least sprout first.Delete
The Euphorbia 'Sticks on Fire' is completely out of control. It's way to big for the strawberry pot it's in and every time I cut it back, it just gets bushier. It's even producing flowers now :[
Only 14...? LOL - I'm sure you'll find most of them a good home. And I'm looking forward to seeing all those beautiful bouquets you will doubtlessly make with them! I tried growing Ranunculus from corms or bulbs (or whatever they are) once, but had very little luck. Tricky little things, aren't they?ReplyDelete
At least one grower I checked recommended not just soaking ("plumping") Ranunculus tubers before planting (which I did) but also pre-sprouting them in soil-filled tray. Maybe even here the soil is too cold for them when planted in late October but I'm just chalking them up to a bad investment.Delete
Good luck with those dahlias Kris. Just received notice mine should arrive Saturday. I need to figure out where to plant them also, but you're actually doing it ahead. I'll end up sticking them wherever I can.ReplyDelete
I just received 2 more dahlias with a bulb order I'd utterly forgotten, Susie. I operated as if non of the tubers I saved would survive storage but of course they all did ;)Delete
An embarrassment of riches! So hard to limit oneself when there are so many wonderful plants vying for our attention. :)ReplyDelete
Somehow, I manage to go overboard every year when it comes to dahlias, Eliza!Delete
I love seeing your dahlias in flower. After my disastrous dahlia experiment last year, I've given up for now and will enjoy yours instead :-)ReplyDelete
I understand, Gerhard. Frankly, I'm always worried that the dahlia tubers I plant in temporary plastic pots are as likely to rot as to sprout, leading me to wonder why I put myself through this every year!Delete