- Author: Betsy Buxton
For several years, Bill the Bulb Baron, aka Bill Welch, used to provide garden clubs, including the Master Gardeners, with an interesting gardening program about what else? Bulbs, of course!
He was an amazing person, not just of his knowledge about growing bulbs, identifying them, and hybridizing them to create interesting colors and petal shapes. He passed away in 2020, but the rewards of his labors continue to delight home gardeners. He would show up for his presentations with enough bulbs of enough shapes and sizes that it seemed as though he had dug up his entire growing fields down in Santa Cruz. It mattered not if he sold his entire supply at the end of his talk or just a few; he was there to talk bulbs and how they would fit into any size yard.
I always took my time to select what I would buy AND how much I could spend. After all, some of those very large, choice bulbs were only (?) $40-50 each! I didn't want to spend that kind of money and find out in the spring that something had gone wrong and that expensive beauty was dead and so very soft and rotten!
So, I bought 3 Crinums – which are a hybrid of the Naked Lady (Amaryllis belladonna) and Crinodonna memoriacorsii and the Crinums which are native to many warm and tropical parts of the world. They were only $5 each and I felt no great loss if they died.
For 3 years, each bulb just sat in its assigned pot – doing NOTHING! No leaves, no shoots were to be seen; every so often, I'd go out there and check on the bulbs as though they were fruit in the market – a slight squeeze to assure myself that they hadn't died. Yep, they were firm, sitting there alone, just waiting for the right time.
This spring, I realized that these bulbs had acclimatized and were actually growing; from one pot was growing a thin green shoot – since I live in the “wind belt” of Suisun City, I carefully moved the pot away from anything that might brush against it and bend it. From the pot, next to it, a very thick, hefty shaft was growing slowly upward; this was the year that I would finally get to see these plants blossom. One of them is white with a slight pink tinge and the other is supposed to be a deep rose-red AND it only took 3 years to do something. Go, team!! The third bulb is still just sitting in its pot, do absolutely nothing but drinking water and using the fertilizer nutrients!
Planting these bulbs is easy, just a matter of putting the bulb 2/3 of the way into the soil and watering. The hard part is waiting for the bulbs to acclimatize which can take 1-2 (or more) years. Excellent pot plants or directly into the ground just like “grandma” planted her naked ladies. The colors can be from white to a darkish rose color and are quite stunning in pots with other plants.
I'm sorry Bill's gone but he left an excellent legacy behind!