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The Coastal Gardener:

Unusual flower bulbs thrive in O.C.

February 19, 2010|By Ron Vanderhoff

One of my plant passions is small flowering bulbs from South Africa.

South African plants, especially those from the western Cape Province, grow especially easily in Southern California’s Mediterranean climate, which is nearly identical. This means winter rains and a summer dry period and mild temperatures. But a very big warning, in spite of their easy culture; these are exceedingly rare plants in gardens and almost none are available commercially. These are only acquired through very specialized mail-order companies or from other avid collectors.

Almost universally, South African bulbs are winter and early spring bloomers, and many are in full bloom at the moment. Just to tease you and whet your appetite for what you probably can’t have, here are a few photos of some that have been blooming recently. If this stirs up your plant curiosities you can see more on my Facebook page under “Ron Vanderhoff.”

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Ask Ron

Question:

When should I plant a tomato in my garden?

Norma

Answer:

Everyone seems to be in a hurry to plant tomatoes earlier and earlier, falsely believing that the earlier they plant, the earlier they will have fruit. The reality is that tomatoes planted earlier don’t bear fruit any sooner, because it is the night temperatures that regulate flower production and pollination. However, they do run the risk of developing a disease called early blight. For most of our area, I believe the prime tomato planting period to be March and April.

ASK RON your toughest gardening questions, and the expert nursery staff at Roger’s Gardens will come up with an answer. Please include your name, phone number and city, and limit queries to 30 words or fewer. E-mail stumpthegardener@rogersgardens.com, or write to Plant Talk at Roger’s Gardens, 2301 San Joaquin Hills Road, Corona del Mar, CA 92625.


RON VANDERHOFF is the Nursery Manager at Roger’s Gardens, Corona del Mar.

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