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franklin county times

Perfume bottles' good choice for garden

By Staff
Dear Gardener,
Years ago my Aunt Thelma gave my mother some bulbs and they produced a little, yellow, good-smelling flower that she called "perfume bottles." A dear friend more recently gave me some bulbs. I had one bloom this year, but the bulbs do not seem to spread. What are the best conditions to plant these bulbs? Do you know of a company where I might purchase some more I have never seen them in a catalog. My friend told me the botanical name for "perfume bottles" is Jonquilla simplex. Thank you for any help you might give me.
Anne M. Gilliam
Dear Ms. Gilliam,
As you know the extraordinary sweet smelling flowers are borne in clusters of two to six on small stems that only reach about six to twelve inches in height. The foliage is thin and reed like.
Like other daffodils, jonquils should be planted in full sun to partial shade. A well-drained soil is a necessity. In the fall plant the bulbs four to six inches deep and three to six inches apart. An amendment of peat moss or compost is a good idea.
Fertilize twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring. A good all around fertilizer like Holland Bulb Booster works well.
Your weak blooms could be the result of several different things. You did not mention how recently you planted these bulbs. Since you did plant fairly recently, I do not imagine that your problem is overcrowding. But if you planted last fall, your small friends might need more time to get established before giving a good show.
If that is not the case then they might be planted in too shady a spot or where the soil stays too damp. Make sure the bulbs are not planted too shallow. When they are too close to the surface they tend to split too quickly. This results in poor blooming. Last but certainly not least, let the foliage die back naturally. Make sure at least one third (preferably more) of the foliage is brown before you trim it back. Cutting back the foliage leads to a nutrient deficient bulb, which results in poor flowering.
A good source for more Narcissus jonquilla is Old House Gardens, 536 W Third St. Dept. FG, Ann Arbor, MI 48103-4957. The catalog costs $2.
Dear Gardener,
My mother lives in the panhandle of Florida. She has many camellia bushes in her garden that have been growing there for years. There are smaller bushes coming up around the larger ones. Can I transplant some of theses bushes to my yard? My mother says that they will not bloom. Is she correct?
Gina Thomas
Dear Gina,
I was fairly sure of my answer to you, but just to make sure I contacted the Fort Walton, Fla., Camellia Society. They confirmed my thoughts on the matter. The seedlings will eventually bloom, but it will take a while. In fact, it will take five to seven years. Also, they probably will not bloom true to the mother plant. So, if you are up for an experiment and are not too picky about what you get they would be worth transplanting.
Amelia O'Brian, a native of Meridian, holds a bachelor of science degree in horticulture from Mississippi State University. To submit a question, write From the Potting Bench, c/o The Meridian Star, P.O. Box 1591, Meridian, MS 39302. Or, visit her on the Web at www.thepottingbench.webprovider.com.