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Follow these garden tips to have success with South African bulbous plants

August 01, 1992|KAREN DARDICK

1. Plant the bulbs where they won't receive any water in the summer. Harold Koopowitz, director of the UC Irvine Arboretum and Gene Bank, recommends growing most of the species in various sizes of clay pots, both to control the amount of water they receive and for aesthetics.

2. These plants perform best when grown in full sun, but many of them will tolerate partial shade.

3. Begin watering in early fall and let the soil dry out between irrigations.

4. Fertilize very lightly. Use an all-purpose bulb fertilizer when the leaves begin to emerge to help with the flower formation.

5. Disease and insect control is practically nonexistent because they flower at the time of year when insects and most disease spores are dormant.

6. Since many of these plants produce small flowers, they are at their aesthetic best if planted in clumps rather than sporadically. An eye-catching planting technique is to plant over the bulbs with small flowering plants such as alyssum, Virginia stock or linaria.

As the bulbs emerge and bloom, they complement the lower growing plants. Use only complementary plants with the similar low-water requirements and choose those that bloom in winter.

Once the bulbs have finished flowering and begin to go dormant, you can move the containers to a secluded site and let them enter their winter dormancy. The bulbs will multiply and can be left in their containers for an even larger flowering display the following year.

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