Bulbs forum: Bulb rot

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Name: Lee-Roy
Bilzen, Belgium (Zone 8a)
Irises Lilies Hostas Ferns Composter Region: Belgium
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Arico
Nov 15, 2015 8:23 AM CST
Hello. A week ago I took three of my spider lilies indoors because the foliage was a mess. It had begun turning yellow, droopy and even mushy; the stem also. So I cut it all off and put them in the attic where it's cool to overwinter.

Over the next few days the mushy stems didn't dry out so I begon to worry. I took one of them out of its pot, rinsed all the soil off and placed it in the living room to dry properly.
Also, the top of the bulb looked like it retreated inside if you know what I mean. I took some small scissors and tweezers, cut the thin rim on the top off to expose more of the inside and removed as much of the mushy stuff as I could and dried it as much as possible with some paper. Was this a good thing to do?


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Ps: does anyone know if the ribbed roots are contractile roots? Would be intersting to know
[Last edited by Arico - Nov 15, 2015 8:25 AM (+)]
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Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Bulbs Cottage Gardener Roses Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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gemini_sage
Nov 15, 2015 9:57 AM CST
It doesn't appear that the bulb is damaged by the trimming you have done, I think it could only help if rot was indeed setting in. Those roots look like contractile roots to me. I have only seen them on lilies, but that accordion look is distinctive.
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Name: Lee-Roy
Bilzen, Belgium (Zone 8a)
Irises Lilies Hostas Ferns Composter Region: Belgium
Image
Arico
Nov 15, 2015 11:18 AM CST
So it won't harm them in anyway? I've just treated the other two bulbs the same way, they were also going mushy. Guess I'll just leave them to dry for a couple of days, dust them with a fungicide and store them in the attic until spring. Should I trim off the excess roots? Or just pot them up again in some barely moist pure sand and then to the attic?
Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Bulbs Cottage Gardener Roses Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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gemini_sage
Nov 15, 2015 1:52 PM CST
I don't believe that will harm them. Drying and applying fungicide is a good move, but I wouldn't trim the roots. No need to create any wounds on healthy tissue (and invite pathogens). I think you're right to store them in some sort of media. I've never used sand, but I have stored bulbs in vermiculite. I think I would use the media dry rather than slightly dampened. Some tubers require some moisture in the storage media, but true bulbs like the spider lily typically store better completely dry.
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Name: Lee-Roy
Bilzen, Belgium (Zone 8a)
Irises Lilies Hostas Ferns Composter Region: Belgium
Image
Arico
Nov 15, 2015 4:46 PM CST
Thanks Neal! You're a real life saver Big Grin
Skåne, Sweden (Zone 7b)
Bulbs Lilies Bee Lover Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Photo Contest Winner: 2016
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William
Nov 16, 2015 4:35 AM CST
I have no experience with spider lilies, but looking at your images they remind me a little about the bulbs of Ornithogalum saundersiae in that the stems appear to leave a hole into the bulb when removed? I was a bit worried about that last winter when bringing them in for storage as some of the stems went mushy rather than drying out. However all of them were fine in the end and sprouted the following spring. I think there is a difference here when we have foliage that are affected by cold and natural decay as opposed to having a pathogen entering the foliage and eventually into the bulb.

For next year I'd suggest to possibly bring the bulbs in a bit earlier and/or leave the foliage on to dry out completely. This I think will help you remove the stems more fully and easily as the foliage will help to draw moisture out of the stem. At least this worked for me. This can be a slow process and most likely will take several weeks, not days.

Also I'm personally opposed to washing bulbs as I tried this with some Fritillaria imperialis for summer storage and the result wasn't good as I lost at least one bulb to rot. Also I kept the sand I stored them in very lightly moist. The following years I have just let them air dry a few days and then stored them directly in rather dry sand and not lost a single bulb to rot.



Name: Lee-Roy
Bilzen, Belgium (Zone 8a)
Irises Lilies Hostas Ferns Composter Region: Belgium
Image
Arico
Nov 16, 2015 5:28 AM CST
Thanks you Skane, I think I'll do just that what you and Neal said: air dry them, dust with a fungicide and store cool and dark in completely dry sand or vermiculite.

By the way, these were just three bulbs of hymenocallis. I have 12 others that I brought in yesterday evening. Normally the temps would be near freezing, but we're experiencing an exeptionally soft november; warmest since measurements began! Result: all of my 5 H. littoralis are still lush and green and even putting on new growth! My 7 other H. harrisiana look a bit more tattered, but still green with no growth.
My idea was to keep them outside until the first frost killed all the foliage and then bring them indoors for storage (either also out of their pot or keep them in, don't know). But as I said I brought them indoors out of slight panic (it was very windy yesterday) and put them in the attic where it's cool, but directly under a roof window where they'll receive light since they're still green.

What should I do? Could they last through winter all green?


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Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Bulbs Cottage Gardener Roses Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
gemini_sage
Nov 16, 2015 6:37 AM CST
I've got some tender bulbs like pineapple lilies and some amaryllises that do that slimy, mushy phase before drying. I think its due to such big, water filled stems. It does appear alarming at first, but I've never had any of them develop rot issues as a result.

Several of my tender potted bulbs have to come inside before the foliage has been frosted. I let them remain dry and allow the foliage to gradually dry and die off. Usually takes about a month to 6 weeks for all the leaves to dry.
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Skåne, Sweden (Zone 7b)
Bulbs Lilies Bee Lover Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Photo Contest Winner: 2016
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William
Nov 16, 2015 7:01 AM CST
The weather here in Skåne (which is the most southern part of Sweden) is the same as you describe - unusually mild for this time of year. No doubt there has been all kinds of weather records set this unusual year!

I believe you did exactly the correct thing bringing these in and I'd just leave them in their pots and move them to the attic. Generally I don't think there is any advantage of letting frost kill the foliage - this can be convenient in some cases, but letting the bulb absorb the nutrition from the leaves should make for a stronger bulb in the end. We also have to look at the reasons to store a bulb without soil - this isn't natural for the bulb, but this again can be convenient for us and can be tolerated by many species. For us it can be space saving and it can be preferable to the alternative - frost or wet and cold soil in our gardens. However in a pot in a protected spot you have 100% control of the water supply so there is usually no need to remove the soil (unless of course you have a problem with rot and need to treat the bulb.)

Hopefully there will be an Hymenocallis expert coming along with more accurate advise, but I took the liberty of googling Hymenocallis littoralis and it seems like this one is evergreen, so my suggestion would be to let it grow on. Furthermore it seems to like some moisture in the soil.

Hymenocallis harrisiana is however described as deciduous, so probably should lose its leaves and I'd just let it do this in its own time and in lack of better advise I wouldn't water it during winter.

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