Ask a Question forum: replanting scattered bulbs in the lawn

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Name: Bhingri
(Zone 6b)
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bhingari
Jun 2, 2014 3:54 PM CST
In the front/back yard of our rental house I am slowly finding various things that previous renters seem to have planted. There are at least two types of bulbs grown in clumps in the lawn. I discovered them only after they bloomed. I identified two as - grape hyacinth and White Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum). The person who comes to mow the lawn seems to just flattens everything in sight and has already destroyed much of foliage. I am thinking of digging out the bulbs and planting it in a separate corner. The question is what is a good time/earliest time to do that for the survival of the bulbs.

Also, what else can I plant with these two so that there is some kind of continuity of flowering and foliage. The grape hyacinth will bloom first, then the white stars but after June they both seem to disappear.

I also realized that we have irises. bearded irises with pale yellow/dirty off white petals and purple beards. They look like they need thinning. Do people generally do swapping of bulbs, rhizomes, cutting? Where is a best place to find people who might want to swap so that I don't have to throw out good stuff and can get something different to mix it up with what is already there.
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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woofie
Jun 2, 2014 4:29 PM CST
As to your last question, we have a Plant and Seed trading forum just for swapping stuff around. http://garden.org/forums/view/trading/
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central Illinois
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jmorth
Jun 3, 2014 12:26 AM CST
After the bulbs foliage disappears, it would be ok to dig them up and store them in a netted bag till fall when you could place them where you prefer. I've read that Ornithogalum umbellatum has a tendency to prolifically spread.
Nothing that's been done can ever be changed.
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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RoseBlush1
Jun 3, 2014 12:57 AM CST
@jmorth .......

I've always wondered why bulbs have to be stored during the summer months instead of just resiting them after the foliage disappears.

I am just guessing, but it seems that just replanting them in the ground is a safe way to store them.

I have several bulbs I need to move and have lots and lots of fall chores, so anything that I can do to avoid making the fall chore list longer just helps me get things done before winter hits.

Smiles,
Lyn
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
central Illinois
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Plant Database Moderator Garden Ideas: Level 2 Photo Contest Winner: 2014
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jmorth
Jun 3, 2014 2:32 AM CST
I think part of the waiting till fall advise may be associated with the adage thy spring bulbs like dry summers. Go ahead and give your proposal a try. If it works out, less chores for your busy fall agenda. If the exercise should fail, both cultivars mentioned could be obtained at a relatively low cost.
Nothing that's been done can ever be changed.
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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RoseBlush1
Jun 3, 2014 7:13 AM CST
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer. It truly helps me to understand the "why of things".

I have very dry summers. Our rains have generally stopped by the end of April (most of the bulbs have died back by mid-May) and the rains won't start again until fall. Now, I can divide them and move them to areas where I don't water during the summer months. That is such good news.

I'll store the bulbs that go back into the areas where I do water. Less to plant in the fall ... Smiling

Smiles,
Lyn
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Jun 3, 2014 8:43 AM CST
Of all plants, bulbs are the easiest to move. The bulb part is a storage facility of moisture and sustenance, so they have a much easier time adjusting than other plants that do not have this feature. There are probably some bulbs that, if disturbed during a certain period, may not make flowers that year, or the following year, depending on the timing of the disturbance, and whether or not they are mature size. In the scheme of the decades of the life of a garden, this is hardly much of a wait compared to growing a perennial from seed, or sprouting an acorn to grow an oak tree. IMO, no bulb that is moved within the course of 1 day is as disturbed as a bulb that's been in a plastic bag, in a box, riding around in a truck, hanging on a shelf. There's no logic in that at all. Bulbs don't do nothing over the winter, or summer, they're busy underground like any other perennial plants.

In early April, I moved thousands of bulbs because we were moving. I knew it would be fine because I've always moved bulbs whenever I wanted/needed to with no ill effects. Constantly moving would be a problem, but a 1-time move is fine for any bulb, especially to rescue it from mowed areas. Occasionally gardeners re-arrange beds, the bulbs don't mind.

I found many bulbs in our mowed areas that have been moved to beds over the years (and then recently ALL moved.) Lycoris, Gladiolus, Watsonias, Oxalis crassipes, Alliums, Daffodils, all moved when found, after being mowed for years. Once you recognize the foliage, you should be able to spot them among the grass, even when not in bloom. (And if you don't move them when you can see the foliage, you can't know precisely where they are and the risk of chopping into them is high, which would be much more of a risk to the bulb than moving it intact.)

The two bulbs you mentioned are often put in lawns because they can be a bit weedy for garden beds, and as you mentioned, usually bloom before the mowing starts. When put in lawns on purpose, people wait to mow until the bulbs bloom. Sounds like the mowing is not under your control though, in which case making a bed specifically for these bulbs should be fun and allow you to see the blooms. If you wanted to do other gardening, a separate bed from the bulbs might be best, but entirely up to you, the gardener in charge at the moment at that property. As short as these bulbs are, I think they would make a fine ground cover under taller plants, but you'd need to keep an extra sharp eye for grass sprouts, which, at a glance, would be nearly identical. "Mower guys" often don't take the step of aiming the mower away from beds, which can deposit grass seeds in beds.
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Name: Bhingri
(Zone 6b)
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bhingari
Jun 3, 2014 9:15 AM CST
@ woofie Thanks for the link for the trading forum. They all look very serious gardeners though. I will try to post something anyways and see if anybody wants my unnamed Iris. :)

Thanks Jmorth and Tiffany for all the info about bulbs. I will keep in mind the 'bulbs being weedy' when planning the space for them.

Tiffany, I actually did see the flowers before the mowing started. My concern was that the mowing was killing them/not allowing them to store food for next season or something to that effect. If that is not the case then I might just leave them be.
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Native Plants and Wildflowers
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purpleinopp
Jun 3, 2014 9:52 AM CST
Up to you! These are the fun things gardeners get to decide. Whatever you decide, you'll be doing so with more info behind it.

The bigger bulbs I found that were mowed for years were small, distressed, indeed because they were rarely able to make much foliage, and can take a few years to recover enough to bloom again, especially the Gladiolus and Alliums. Those that are tiny when mature, with foliage not much taller than the usual height of mowing are known to do well in mowed areas because most of their foliage remains intact. You hit the nail on the head, as they say!

Absolutely, somebody would love to have your excess Irises! The facility on here for making a list of your plants is very helpful in that regard. You can make it a list of what you hope to find, to get started. People also offer excess plants for the cost of postage. If interested in that, you should find some interesting things that way too.
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Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
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woofie
Jun 3, 2014 10:27 AM CST
And don't be intimidated by what appears to be "serious gardeners." Hilarious! If you don't know the names of your irises, just post photos of the blooms. Lots of people here who just like pretty flowers. Smiling
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Native Plants and Wildflowers
Bulbs Foliage Fan Tropicals Butterflies Garden Sages Cactus and Succulents
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purpleinopp
Jun 3, 2014 10:51 AM CST
Somebody please correct me if this is wrong, but I think this is the general 'bearded Iris' entry:

Species Iris (Iris germanica)
You would say you have these in a yellow/purple combo.
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