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Effects of planting depth and mulching on perennialization on several small geophyte species

Miller, C. T., Griffin, J. J., Miller, W. B.
Acta horticulturae 2017 no.1171 pp. 395-399
Chionodoxa, Crocus, Fritillaria, Muscari, Scilla, Tulipa, bark mulches, bulbs, flowering, geophytes, landscapes, mortality, mulching, planting depth, soil, winter, Kansas, New York
Smaller geophytic species (e.g., Crocus, Muscari, Scilla, Chionodoxa, etc.) are showy in the landscape, but many propagules are needed to create an attractive display. Because of the small geophyte size, planting larger displays can be tedious. Based on previous research with larger geophyte species (i.e., Tulipa), we decided to investigate the effects of bulb planting depth and mulch depth on the ability of several small geophyte species to survive and perennialize in the landscape. This study was conducted at two locations (Ithaca, NY and Haysville, KS; United States). Eleven genera (18 species; e.g., Crocus, Bellevalia, Fritillaria, Muscari, and Scilla) were planted at two different depths, 8 cm or on the soil surface, in which bulbs were gently pressed against the soil surface. After planting, bulbs were covered with 8 cm of shredded bark mulch. Data were collected for three years, evaluating overall survival and height at flowering. After three winters, our results showed that many species did not perennialize well. For some species, there was near 100% mortality after the first winter (e.g., Anemone spp. and Muscari latifolium) while for many species, there was a gradual decline in the number of plants over the three-year period.