Lycoris squamigeraIf you enjoy growing flower bulbs in your landscape, you are also likely aware that the more unusual the species, the more costly it can be. So, the wise thing to do is to shop around if you want one. The genus, Lycoris, first entered the United States of America in 1854, so surprise lilies, or spider lilies, have been in the U.S. well over 150 years. Yet, this exceptionally beautiful genus is not experiencing widespread cultivation. I believe the reason is due to the fact that it is not suited well to the average gardener and non-gardener. Why? Foliage growth is not associated with bloom, so the foliage is likely mowed or cut down too early in the spring, and no plant will do well if its source of photosynthesis is cut short over and over, year after year. Lycoris foliage needs to be allowed to begin to “die back” or dwindle before cutting it back to the ground, allowing as many resources for the development, growth, and division of the bulb, as well as encouraging floral initiation.

There are some very easy solutions to avoid improper care of the foliage in the winter and spring.

  1. If planting in the lawn, plant around the base of deciduous trees or fixed objects like fences and gas meters, so, that when mowing in the spring, the foliage is more easily avoided, even if hiring out the mowing to folks who wouldn’t know better. Curséd weed wackers! Optionally, intermingle with a daffodil planting, because the leaves from afar don’t look that much different than daffodil leaves, and everybody knows not to cut down daffodil foliage until 6 weeks after bloom, right? Right?
  2. If planting in a flower bed, again they can be intermingled with daffodils, but they can also be planted under small trees or in other locations where foliage is enhanced by nearby plants that bloom during that same period of time.

Why go to the trouble of growing Lycoris, if you consider the above explanations to be extraordinary efforts?

Of how many flower bulb genera do you know that provide a prominent, colorful, hawk moth & hummingbird attracting bloom anywhere from the end of July onward into October (depending on variety/species)? The answer would be very few. Color! Prominent Color! And flower form can go from “spidery” to “trumpety".

I trust you will agree at this point that surprise lily just might be worth the effort it takes to strategically locate it in your landscape, but price can and should always be a consideration when buying plants for the landscape. Lycoris are significanly more expensive than commonly purchased bulbs like Muscari, Narcissus (daffodils) and tulips, but there’s a good reason for that. A Lycoris bulb takes at least THREE years to develop from seed or scale before it becomes blooming size. So, it, therefore, requires more time in the nursery before it can be presented to you as a blooming size bulb. Time is resources! Time is money! I will note here that vendors who sell Lycoris in pots are selling you a product that will not likely bloom for at least two more years. Dormant importers may sell you a flowering size bulb, but the way it was prepared for transport affects its ability to recover and may still lead to a delay of a couple years, if not more. Essentially, the bulbs really need to still keep their roots during dormancy, and the roots would not survive the long process of import into the U.S.

Lycoris chinensisSo, why buy from Bulbmeister, really?

All of my Lycoris are field grown, and I dig the bulbs on demand. This allows me to select flowering size bulbs with roots, and it allows you to receive them in as fresh a condition as possible. That’s not all, though! In addition to supplying a superior product compared to any other vendor, my prices are significantly lower than any of the vendors who offer bulbs with roots in pots (remember, with Lycoris, roots are important). My prices are even comparable and can be better than those more commonly available as dormant imports.

So, when purchasing Lycoris from the Bulbmeister, you get:

  • Flowering sized
  • With roots
  • Fresh as a daisy
  • Comparably GREAT prices!

Okay, folks! I’m going to say it. But that’s not all! Here’s the most important conclusion for considering this investment.

Lycoris bulbs are perennial and slowly divide (increase). This means you will be buying a flower bulb that gives and keeps on giving! As a matter-of-fact, it is recommended you dig every 7-10 YEARS to divide and spread out the established mass of bulbs. That’s not because you subscribed to an annual Lycoris delivery service! No way! No how! That’s because you loved and respected the unique qualities of Lycoris, so it rewarded you in return, year after year after year for FREE.

Buy from the Bulbmeister! I try my hardest, relying on nobody else but myself, to provide you a quality addition to your landscape.

As of the time of this writing, my already competitive prices are slashed on most Lycoris (surpise, resurrection, hurricane, magic, spider lily)! These special prices will remain in effect through July 4, 2019. I’ve also included Canna and Zephyranthes in this sale. Please do consider the Bulbmeister, and thank you for your time.

I do have to end with a bit of bad news for some. Due to the fact my bulbs are field grown and do have roots, I am unable to serve the state of California.

Trailer with compost

I have a small 5′ x 8′ landscape trailer I’ve used for over a decade, if not 15 years, to haul all sorts of things, including a leaning tower of computers on a 450 mile journey. It has served me very well all of those years, and I hope to use it for many more. Well, this handy little trailer has specifications allowing it to handle 3500 lbs. of weight. Considering it’s served almost it’s whole life behind my 1995 Kia Sportage, which can only handle 2000 lbs for towing IF the trailer has brakes (and the trailer doesn’t have brakes), it’s not really had to be taxed to it’s limit, until recently. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve moved to towing with my Kia Sorento, able to tow 3500 lbs.

Before I go further, I might mention some facts about the tires on the 14″ wheels. The trailer has two, one on each side, and each is labeled to handle 1290 lbs, meaning together they can carry 2580 lbs. Hmm. So, a trailer weight capacity of 3500 lbs. could lead an engineering and physics novice such as myself to put too much weight on a 3500 lb. capacity trailer, now couldn’t it? Did I mention that these are the original tires that came with the trailer? Well, they are, and though they still have great tread, and the spare has never been used, I’m sporting tires composed of at least 10-year-old materials.

Last year I decided to drive 64 miles to Miami, OK (NOT Florida), to haul home some mushroom compost for my garden, and I did this in the Sportage. You see, the cheapest price I could find for delivery was $45/yard, and it could be bought directly for $15/yard. When I got there, I had determined that, by volume, my trailer (with walls added) could handle about 3 yards of compost. As a matter of fact, I figured it could handle four, by volume, but not knowing actual weight, I stuck with three yards. I paid for three and drove around to the loading pad where the Bobcat driver promptly loaded one… two…

“WHOA! STOP!!” I cried. My tires were almost flat to the ground, and I was panicking! I got out my tire gauge, and the tires (I hadn’t used the trailer in a season), were down to 20 lbs., not up to 35 lbs., their maximum. I stopped the loader from providing the third paid load and crippled away with two loads for the price of three. I turned into the nearest air station, found enough quarters, and filled the tires to about 30 lbs. The tires, though looking a bit stressed, looked okay, and I carefully drove home.

Enter two weeks ago. This time I needed the compost for my nursery, and I used the Sorento. This time I checked the tire pressure (as I should have done the first time) and aired up all the way to maximum allowed, and, this time, I was pretty sure I could handle three yards. I drove 64 miles, paid for three yards, drove around to the loading pad where the Bobcat driver promptly loaded one… two…

“WHOA! STOP!!” I blustered. My tires didn’t look like they could handle another load! Maybe this driver had loaded the bucket more heavily? I don’t know for sure why it looked worse than the previous time (with proper tire pressure), but, nevertheless, again I slowly limped away with two loads for the price of three, and I carefully drove home.

“Maybe I should do some research,” I thought to myself.

One, can I get tougher tires? YES! I can purchase a tire that can handle 1760 lbs. (and still fit my fenders), or two for 3520 lbs.! Well, that almost EXACTLY matches the capacity of the trailer! Oh, but I’m going to be away when the order would arrive, so I will have to delay adding new tires until I get back. Good. To. Know.

Two, just what does a yard of mushroom compost weigh? Well, a yard can be up to 600 lbs. Wow! Still, If I only get 3 yards, that would only be 1800 lbs., right? Why do my tires look so stressed? Oh, well. I’d better, for the time being, just stick with two yards. Maybe the tires are showing their age.

Enter today! Following the scenario of two weeks past, I drove around to the loading pad where the Bobcat driver promptly loaded one… two-three!!!!!

“Arrrgghhh!! STOP!! I only purchased two,” I hastened.

“Oh, I’ll give you as much as you want,” he said with a smile. “These buckets hold 1 1/2 yards, so you should have about 4 1/2 yards in there right now.”

My 10-year-old tires are looking mighty sad, and I am, too, right about now as I give the Bobcat driver my gracious thanks, while, at the same time my heart goes into palpitations. “How am I going to make the 64 mile trip home?” I mused. “At least I now know why my tires looked so stressed last time.” I then, under my breath, honestly asked God to get me home with special attention to my safety and others’. Here, at home, safe and sound I write, less than two hours after returning. Attribute my safe return at your own discretion, but it is as it is.

Somehow, with only the ability to haul 2580 lbs., my tires hauled, today, at least 2700 lbs. of compost plus trailer weight, which I imagine to be around 300 lbs. The leaf springs under the trailer, two inches from the axle when not loaded, were about one inch from the axle. After all, they could have handled 500 more pounds, if it weren’t for my tire limitations.

So, now that I know how much is actually loaded from their Bobcat bucket, one-and-a-half yards, and not one yard, I know that, over the life of this witness, I paid for eight yards of compost and drove out with 10 1/2 yards, getting a better bargain than I could have imagined. J-M Farms, Inc., is a great place to buy mushroom compost! Not only is the current going price of $15/yard a bargain, they are intentionally generous by attributing one yard to a one-and-a-half yard bucket. Don’t go there expecting them to load extra buckets, by the way. They had a lot of compost, and concerning a line of customers for pickup, the crickets were singing today. This is not their usual scenario. I love, however, their standard scenario, as the philosophy does it’s best to provide more than required.

Why write about this? Therapy. My heart rate has gone back to a normal hop, skip, and jump. Time to prepare more flower bulb beds for transplanting!


Bulbmeister.COM Auction

On occasion Bulbmeister.COM will have quality odds & ends harvested from the nursery, including seeds when they are available. Instead of being added to the Nursery List, these items will be offered at the linked auction site.

To be made aware when auctions are offered, visit and LIKE the Bulbmeister.COM Facebook Page. Additionally, when you register at the auction site, you can choose to receive a newsletter, which will also be used to notify interested parties of new offers at auction


FreezePruf™ - A Quick Summary

I ended my winter 2010 evaluation of Lycoris hardiness with the following statement, “This product will probably be applied again next year in the hopes of evaluating under more normal circumstances and with a properly timed second application.” The “product” referred to was FreezePruf™, an organic solution sprayed on winter plants, touted to improve plant cold hardiness by as much as 9°F.

The winter ending 2011 was in no way a normal winter, instead offering up winter lows that matched the record for our area. I also did not follow my own advice, but modified it. I still sprayed the first application of the solution at the appropriate time, but, shortly after, I covered my Lycoris in Reemay, which is only supposed to protect plants by another 2°F or so. My logic was to provide better protection than I had the year before, especially by offering a frost barrier, where I had only sprayed once, and avoid having to spray again in January/February. Little did I expect the temperatures we would see.

Thankfully, with those temperatures also came snow, which acts as a good insulator. This protected the bulbs, themselves, from actually getting as cold as outside air temperatures, but I was not sure what would happen to the foliage separated from the snow only by a thin layer of Reemay.

For the most part, things went really well. Lycoris xalbiflora performance was disappointing, though, as the foliage did not survive well, even though it performed sufficiently well the year before down to 0°F. Lycoris aurea, treated differently, still sprayed once, but using heated plastic tunnels instead of Reemay, just could not handle the cold, and performed the same as the previous year. This time the heat lamps did not fail, but could not compete with -15°F. Under the Reemay, L. ‘Cherry Blossom Pink’ and L. straminea did not perform well, either. Otherwise, Lycoris foliage performance was as good or better than the previous year, that year’s results of which can be reviewed in detail in the article, “A Practical Evaluation of FreezePruf™“.

My hopes are that this winter will behave more “normally", but whether or not it does, due to the extreme nature of the past two winters, I am convinced FreezePruf™ must become a standard part of my winter Lycoris maintenance program. Thanks to all those who have worked to develop such a product, as it has really served me well in this unique situation.

What a year it has been! With this past winter we saw record matching lows, reaching down to -15°F!! If that wasn’t enough, this spring we saw 13″ of rain in a span of 10 days!!! And, if THAT wasn’t enough, this summer we experienced a 6 week drought with many, many days over 100°F, with the highest reading being 107°F (IN THE SHADE)!!!! Ah, but the things we get to learn through trial.

So, what did I learn from record matching lows?

  • That FreezePruf™ will definitely remain a part of my winter maintenance schedule. I will be posting about this season’s anecdotes shortly.
  • That some flower bulbs are just WAY hardier than common wisdom dictates. I was thrilled to see survival and thriving spring growth in species I never imagined could survive.

And, how about all that spring moisture?

  • Well, the main thing I learned was that it is best to keep up with weed control as much as possible.
  • That I may want to look into some simple, organic fungus and bacterial controls to encourage flower bulb foliage health. This is an issue faced to one degree or another, even under normal moisture conditions.

Finally, were there lessons learned from intense summer heat and drought?

  • This is a good reason to have a permanent irrigation system in place, though, under normal circumstances, irrigation is not all that important for most flower bulbs.
  • Wear a HAT, Crazy Man!!!

I have not been promoting sales aggressively for about three years, now. The bulk of my business, in years past, had been through dormant import sales, and that avenue of marketing had become untenable. So, I watched my nursery to see how it would perform, since a number of species were only in the nursery as leftover stock from unsold dormant import inventory. The last few years have brought some very extreme weather conditions which have been a true test for hardiness and bulb durability in our area. I have been encouraged with that success.

I am also encouraged by how well some of those products have appeared to increase in the beds. This will lead to some mass diggings, dividing and re-plantings over the next couple of years, and this should make some of my bulbs available at lower prices for short periods of time. I have the parts received for repairing my bulb digger, so I’m all set to get digging!

Due to these circumstances, I have been actively marketing again at a level that will allow me to keep up with requests. This has me looking toward the immediate future as a period of slow growth and added nursery improvements to facilitate efficiency. I hope you will also take note that I do have a presence on Facebook. Please click the image and give us a “Like".

I wish to give my heartfelt thanks to those who have remained loyal customers through my lack of public communication. Not all trials are bad for us. They provide information to help with adaptation or making improvements helping folks learn and grow. It’s time to grow forward! :D

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