BULLETIN NO. 19 NEW SERIES SiPTEMBIER. 1949
JOHlN M. ScoTT
State of Florida
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Nathan Mayo. Commissioner
TALLA HASSE -
Prepared and Published in Co-operation with the College
of Agriculture. University of Florida. Gainesuille
BRICE PRINTING CO LAKE WALES FLORIDA
TABLE OF CONTENTS
General Statement .............................---- -- ......-.....- .........--- 3
Soils .. .- .......................--.. .......... ...... ........ ........ 3
Fertilization ............................. ........... ..... -- ---......... 5
Cultivation .......................... ... ..........................---- --. 6
Number Required Per Acre...... ...........................------ 6
Type of Bulbs Grown ....................................-- .-- ....-.....--- 6
GLADIOLI ....... ..... ............ .................. ........-..... 7
W hat to Plant ..... ......... ........ ..... ............... ........... .....-- 7
C during ............................. .................. ...... ............................ 10
Planting .......... ...-.. .................-. .... ........._..... ... .............. 12
Digging .._......................-......... .......-...-. .........--- ---. 13
Cutting the Bloom.................................. ...... .-. .- 14
NARCISSUS ...-.... ............ .. .. ..... ................... 15
W hat to Plant ................... ... ... ....... ....... ..... ..................... 16
Planting ..........................................---- 20
Digging ...............----.-..... ---..----.................-.-- 23
Curing .--.........-....- ..--........--......... -..--......-...........---- 25
Cleaning and Grading .............. ..................... ..... ...... 27
Clann and Grading ----------------------------- ---- -2
Testing for Blooming Quality-........................-..-.... .... --- 27
Sizing, Counting, Packing..................... .... .... ....... 28
Prpgtion------- -------------------------------------- 3
EASTER LILY ....----................... ......................... ...................... 29
Propagation ............................. .. .................. .............. --..... 31
Planting .----...-- ......---------------------. 32
Digging and Storing --..--................---........ ........................ 32
Cutting the Bloom s........... .......... ......................... ............... 33
AMARYLLIS ....---.......-..-.. .................. ......--------- 33
Growing from Seed .....---.. ----.. ------------ 35
CALLA LILY .................... .................-- ...................... 35
Propagation -...-- ----............-.. --................--..............- 36
Harvesting ..........-----.................-.. -------- 37
HYACINTHS .---..........................................-......... 37
M ISCELLANEOUS ............................................. ......... 37
Roguing .......................... .................... .................... ....... 38
M marketing ......................... .................. .....----- -...... 38
Diseases and Insects.............-...--........ -.............. ... ............... 39
Commercial Bulb Production
By JOHN M. SCOTT
IPrepared and lPublishced in Co-opuration w'ith the CoIlett, of
Auriculture. iOt:L',rst u of Florida. (Ganest.\ct'il
T -1I commercial production of bulbs in :lorida dates back
some 25 years or more. but during the past few years the
industry has expanded very rapidly. IThe early bulb
growers in lFlorida had very limited plantings and their income
was secured almost entirely from the sale of cut flowers. Today.
however, the growing of bulbs for cut flowers, except for the
local trade. is almost a thing of the past. Flowers that are pro-
duced by greenhouses in the North generally satisfy the trade
better than blooms shipped from Florida.
Commercial bulb plantings have been made in widely scat-
tered areas in the State. but the largest acreages will be found
in Alachua. Baker. (lar. DSeta. Lake. Manatee. Marion.
Orange. Palm Beach. Polk. Siminole and Volusia counties.
Plantings made in the State during 1928 are estimated at be-
tween 60.000.000 and 100.000.00 n 0 00 bulbs. or between 1.200 and
No attmnpt will be made to discuss bulb growing tor orna-
mental purposes in the home. Information along this line may
be secured from some of the references given at the end of this
bulletin. particularly from Florida Extension Bulletin No. 48.
"'Flowering Bulb Culture in I'lorida."
Almost any good soil that is well drained and contains
plenty of moisture is satistaczorv for bulbs. Thle fertile loams
such as are suitable for growing Irish potatoes. cabbage. lettuce.
or. in fact. almost any truck crop. will grow sound and solid
bulbs of good size capable of producing excellent flowers. Bulbs
grown on heavy muck soils may appear to be as large or larger
than those grown on loam soils. but they are not usually as
solid or compact.
FigI, Flin( Ul-
B'LB PRODUCTION IN FLORIDA 5
New ground is not apt to prove very satisfactory, particu-
larly if there is much lime or if it is full of palmetto roots.
Humus. however, is very desirable, provided it is well rotted
down so there will be no danger of stimulating decay.
The preparation of the soil for bulbs is very much the same
as for any truck crop. \\hen there is much trash or growth on
the surface, it is generally advisable to disk the ground two or
three times after plowing, or as often as necessary, to thoroughly
cut up all weeds and trash and work it in the soil. This must
be done so as to allow thorough decomposition before the bulbs
It is always desirable to have the soil well filled with humus.
which may be supplied by an application of well rotted stable
manure or by turning under a heavy cover crop. Care must be
taken. however, to see that the material has thoroughly decom-
posed before the bulbs are planted. or injury will result to the
When the land is inclined to be wet it is often necessary to
plow it up in beds and open up all ditches so as to provide drain-
age. The calla lily seems to be able to stand more water than
most other bulbs, but neither the calla lily nor narcissus can stand
continuous wet conditions in the field
A sufficient amount of research work has not been done in
Florida to definitely state just how much fertilizer to apply per
acre or just what the formula should be. The general practice is
to use a good vegetable fertilizer analyzing around 5 per cent
ammonia. 7 per cent available phosphoric acid. and 5 per cent
potash. although many growers increase the percentage of potash.
From one half to one ton of commercial fertilizer is usually
applied to the land about ten days before the bulbs are planted.
or else it is drilled in the rows and thoroughly mixed with the
soil before planting. Very often another application is applied
as a side-dressing later on.
With amaryllis the fertilizer is commonly applied in about
three applications. preferably during February. May and Sep-
6 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
By planting in twenty-four, twenty-eight or thirty-inch
rows, an opportunity is given to cultivate with horse power or
garden tractor. When the rows are as close as eighteen inches
apart, cultivation will have to be done with the hand hoe.
Not a great deal of cultivation is needed, as in the winter
there are not so many weeds growing. The general practice with
most growers is to give three or four cultivations with a sweep
or any other light one-horse cultivator.
NUMBER OF BULBS REQUIRED TO
PLANT ONE ACRE
The number of bulbs required to plant one acre will depend
entirely on how close together they are planted. When planted
in thirty-inch rows and three inches apart in the row about
69,000 bulbs will plant one acre. If planted in twenty-four-
inch rows and three inches apart in the row, about 87,000 bulbs
are required for one acre. When rows are 18 inches apart with
the bulbs three or four inches apart in the row, around 115,000
to 120.000 bulbs are required for an acre. Splits may be planted
closer together in the row, one inch apart in the row being com-
mon, which will take around 200,000 to the acre.
A serious drawback to bulb growing is the amount of capital
required to purchase a supply of bulbs for planting, as from
50,000 to 100,000 bulbs are generally required for each acre. It
is therefore the safest plan for the person just starting in the
business to begin on a small scale until he has learned the best
method for handling the crop.
TYPE OF BULBS GROWN
As the commercial production of bulbs is a new industry in
Florida, there is a great variation in the types of bulbs that are
grown in the State both experimentally and on a commercial
scale. Gladioli and narcissi are perhaps the most popular, al-
though there is a considerable acreage planted to a number of
The methods of planting and handling each type of bulb
varies somewhat so that a separate discussion of each type will
be more fitting. Florida Extension Bulletin No. 48, by T. A.
BULB PRODUCTION IN FLORIDA 7
Brown, published in June, 1928, contains the latest and most
complete data available on bulb culture in Florida. The infor-
mation given below has been taken entirely from this bulletin.
The varieties of primulinus hybrids. involved from the cross-
ing of Gladiolus prinmulinus with various large-flowered species
are to be numbered by the score. No effort is made to list the
varieties in full. the following being some which are more gen-
erally grown for the florist's trade:
Alice Tiplady ..........
Flora ... ........
Halley ... ..
Maiden's Blush ..
Mrs. Francis King
Mrs. Frank Pendelton
Mrs. O. W. Halliday
COLOR OF BLOOM
Pure white with lavender markings.
Rose pink with velvety red blotch in th
Pink with yellow throat.
White with lilac feathering in throat.
Yellcw with garnet blotch in throat.
WHAT TO PLANT
While the variations of color and type are the results of both
natural and cross pollination, usually little satisfaction will be
found in planting seed for the production of bulbs for the gar-
den. On the other hand, the easiest and most satisfactory means
of reproduction is from the small corms (Cormels)-in Florida
commonly called bulblets-that form within the root system
of the new bulb which replaces the old one with every current
Standard sizes of bulbs are: No. 1. 11.; inches and over in
diameter: No. 2. 11. to 1I' inches: No. 3. 1 to 11I inches:
*Fla. Agri. Ext. Div. Bul. 48.
8 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Fig. 2. Gladiolus, Showing Old Bulb, New
Bulb and Increase. Courtesy Florida Agri-
cultural Extension Division.
No. 4, to 1 inches: No. 5. 1. to % inch: and No. 6, ',/ to 12
inch in diameter. The best planting stock for the average beginner
probably is the two-year-old bulb that is from 1 1, to 2 inches
in diameter and thick from top to bottom. Such a bulb is called
by commercial growers as fat, or plump, and is usually a vigor-
ous grower and bloomer. This will include, the sizes numbered
1 and 2. Smaller ones will often bloom well but are not so vig-
orous and should not be allowed to bloom. They should have
the spike cut out as soon as it appears above the foliage, so as to
induce better growth and vigor for next season. When properly
handled, this larger sized bulb should not only bloom, but should
produce from a dozen to a hundred small corms or cormels
bulbletss), that will range in size from a No. 6 down to the
*i' i- .
ll8, ,:,,, '.,,'T ,
Fig, 1, Gladioli Bulblets That Are IMaking a Fine Growth,
10 DEPARTMENT o1: AGRICULTURE
size of a pea. and which should be carefully saved at digging
time for replanting and the subsequent production of large bulbs
In this climate, these cormels may be planted at once after
digging, or may be packed in dry sand for several weeks' storage,
or they may be dried and put away for a year before planting.
In the latter case, owing to excessive drying and hardening of the
shell, it is advisable to cover the cormels with water for a day
and then pour off the water and cover the wet cormels again with
a wet sack for three or four days to soften before planting. The
resulting growth should produce no bloom in most cases. but a
good foliage and bulbs up to an inch in diameter, and will likely
make a great many new cormels the first year.
In northern climates w-here the ground freezes, the cormels
that remain in the ground will be killed and there is no danger
from mixtures resulting from those left in the soil at digging
time. But in Florida, if the grower has more than one variety
(which is usually the case), a new place should be chosen each
time for planting. since even the most careful digger will leave
some cormels in the soil. which will come up later and cause a
hopeless mixture in the next crop. if planted on the same ground.
Many beginners seem to want to start with very large bulbs.
thinking that these should produce extra large. fine blooms. But,
as a rule. the bulb that has reached a diameter of more than three
inches has gotten very thin in comparison and is too weak to
produce a good bloom. It should be discarded.
Bulbs grown in the North, being planted in May and June
and harvested in October. should not be planted much before
Christmas in Florida. as they will not be well enough cured in
most cases to start growth readily. In this climate, native-grown
stock may be planted at any time after it has had time to cure,
which will, of course, depend on the stage of maturity at which
it was dug. If dug as soon as foliage begins to yellow, more time
will necessarily be required for curing than if allowed to die down
in the field.
4'iJ V:r '7,
Fir, I, (;abli Heininjigto Bloom, Ninod I)Dvs Afer Planting,
12 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Curing should be done in any dry, well ventilated place, and
the length of time required will vary from six weeks to four
months. If cured entirely in ordinary storage, the best way to
tell when the bulbs are ready to replant is to watch for signs of
growth, and then planting must be done at once or top growth
will start and vitality of the bulbs will be rapidly depleted.
When the first eyes begin to swell, some growers prefer to
place the bulbs in cold storage for two or three weeks to chill
them thoroughly, claiming that they come up more uniformly.
However, this point seems not to have been definitely settled.
It is true that when planted before the curing process is com-
plete, the bulbs do not sprout evenly and the rows often appear
very uneven and ragged.
The season for planting in Florida may include every month
in the year, but for the production of flowers for profitable
markets, gladioli should be planted in September and October
for fall and in January and February for spring, thus bringing
the bloom when there is none produced in the North. Cormels
bulbletss) should be planted about 50 to the foot in straight
rows that have a very definite V-shaped bottom, to simplify
cultivation and regulate depth. The depth should be 3 to 4
inches. Care must be taken to keep plenty of moisture to the
young bulbs at all times until they approach maturity.
Blooming bulbs should be planted six inches deep and a
distance apart equal to the width of the width of the bulb, thus
allowing for expansion and growth. At each growing period it
will be found that the old bulb when planted, puts up a top
growth as soon as, if not before, root growth starts. After the
top gets started a new bulb starts to form just on top of the old
one and this new bulb puts out a set of roots independent of
those of the old bulb. When the new bulb approaches maturity
and has bloomed, it puts out a set of rhizomes that resemble short
roots, which develop the small corms or cormels bulbletss) at
their ends. By the time the top begins to die down, these cormels
are ready to dig with the parent bulb. The old bulb will be
found quite firmly fastened to the new one at digging time, but
BULB PRODUCTION IN FLORIDA 13
after they have been in storage for 10 days or two weeks, they
can be readily pulled off, at which time the cormels may be sep-
arated also and replanted or stored.
In the opening field for commercial production. most grow-
ers plant in single rows to enable them to cultivate with horse
power, thereby reducing the cost. In this case. the distance be-
tween the rows will be governed largely by the type of cultivation
used and the moisture conditions. The average grower finds that
in order to get through between the rows at blooming time they
should be about 30 inches apart. In "flatwoods" land, where
drainage is very essential, it seems advisable to ridge the ground
and work the soil up to the plants in a manner similar to the
way potatoes are worked. In the drier soils where drainage is
not essential, it is just as well to plant flat and cultivate likewise.
In any event, the bulbs should be planted six inches deep or the
heavy bloom stalk will pull the plant over with the first strong
Cormels planted in September and October make their regu-
lar growth and die down in the early spring, although some will
be delayed until others are half grown. This necessitates digging
while some are immature, which is not usually considered much
loss. If left in the ground for the late ones to mature, some of
the earlier ones will be growing again before the latest ones are
ready to dig. One must decide when to dig by watching the
Commercial crops should be dug at the end of every growing
season, just as soon as the average tops are yellowing and ready
to die down. The tops should be cut off with a sharp hoe. The
rows may be barred off with a small plow. leaving just the
narrow strip containing the bulbs. This may be carefully picked
up with a shovel, being sure to get the cormels. and the whole
sifted through a screen having about eight meshes to the inch.
Naturally, the soil must be dry. Some Northern growers use
a tile scoop such as is used to level the ditches before laying tile.
and this may be set at just the right angle to scoop up the core
of soil in which the bulbs are.
S4 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
After screening, the bulbs are taken to the curing shed and
spread out in trays or shallow bins to dry, after which they are
separated and cleaned and returned to the bins until market or
Great care must be exercised at all times to keep from getting
the different varieties mixed, as, once mixed, there is no prob-
ability of getting the varieties separated without several seasons
careful roguing and waste.
In cleaning the bulbs, the outer husks may be removed to
give the bulbs a nice appearance, but enough husk must be left
on to prevent excessive drying of the eyes or buds. A bulb that
has been completely peeled is not considered good merchantable
CUTTING THE BLOOM
Northern growers of gladioli, who have but one season each
year for production, tell us that from 75 to 120 days are required
from planting time to bloom, according to variety. However, in
Florida much less time is sometimes required, and it is difficult
to say just how long the average period will be.
In the case of the smaller bulbs, one year from cormels, un-
less they are exceptionally vigorous, it is not advisable to let the
bloom mature at all and most growers go over and cut out the
spikes just as soon as they are far enough out of the foliage to
get at, so as to put all of the strength into bulb growth. With
the regular bloom crop, where bloom is to be marketed, the
spikes are cut just as the first bud begins to open.
The foliage should not be cut off or the vitality of the bulb
will be reduced. The spike should be cut with a small-bladed
knife that can be slipped down between the leaves, getting as
much stalk as possible. The spikes may be tied in bunches of
25 and packed in paperlined crates that are practically airtight,
without moisture of any kind and shipped by parcel post. The
crates should be long enough that spikes will lie out straight.
A light block should be nailed down across the stems to prevent
slipping and bruising the spikes.
As soon as the receiver gets the package, he will recut the
stems and put them in water to fill and revive. While they will
be quite wilted, they will strighten and open up when they
BULB PRODUCTION IN FLORIDA
get in the water. If the spikes are filled before being packed, or
if water is kept on the stems while lying in the crate, the spikes
will endeavor to straighten to an upright position and become
crooked and will stay that way. spoiling the appearance of the
If the shipping distance requires more than 36 hours, it is
sometimes found advisable to ship in paper-lined hampers with
wet sphagnum moss in the bottom, upon which the cut ends of
the stems may rest in order to take up moisture. In this case
the hamper should be well filled and then shaken down so that
all of the stems will come in contact with the moss and there
will not be slack space for the spikes to shake around and be-
come bruised. The hamper should be marked on top with large
plain label indicating the nature of contents and cautioning ex-
press employees to keep right side up. or injury to the flowers
will surely follow.
Different countries have bred tu different strains of narcissi
until the varieties are now numbered in hundreds. There are
eleven main divisions or groups of narcissi. Foremost are the
Trumpet Daffodil. Jonquilla. Poeticus and Poetaz (Polyanthus)
groups with many variations in each type. The first three were
bred and introduced mainly in the British Isles and the Nether-
lands. and Polyanthus in southern France. Italy and China. It
is with this southern strain that we are most concerned, because
our climatic conditions are more nearly similar to those in the
native home of this tender variety.
The Polyanthus (Tazetta and Tazetta hybrids) varieties
usually found in Florida commercial plantings are the Paper-
white. Grand Solid d'Or. and Chinese Sacred Lily. Double
Roman. Pearl. and several others are being tried with some suc-
cess. The heaviest importations for commercial use have always
been the Paperwhite and this variety now far exceeds in number
anything else produced in Florida. so much so that it is consider-
ed the standard in all discussion of narcissus types among our
growers, although the other Polyanthus types do equally well
and are handled in much the same manner. The hardy varieties
16 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Fig. 5. Bloom of the Paperwhite Narcissus. Courtesy
Florida Agricultural Extension Division.
adapted to Northern conditions appear to be rather unsatisfactory
throughout the major portion of Florida. For many years the
Polyanthus type of narcissus has been grown in Alachua county
by Mr. T. K. Godbey. but since 1925 plantings have increased
very rapidly until it is now a standard crop in many counties,
the bulk of the crop being located in Alachua, Duval, Clay, Vo-
lusia, and Seminole counties.
WHAT TO PLANT
As with every other flowering bulb, the type variation in
narcissi is so great where plants are grown from seed that com-
mercial producers depend entirely upon propagation from the
natural division of the bulbs. This occurs at a certain stage of
growth by means of offsets or slabs separating the mother bulb
BULB PRODUCTION IN FLORIDA 17
Fig. 6. Mother Bulb and Offset of the Narcissus.
Courtesy Florida Agricultural Extension Division.
which, when planted separately, under proper cultural conditions
will round out to a size that should produce a good bloom the
following year. This is the bulb of commerce, which should
be round, firm. and single-nosed (evidence of one set of foliage).
When the mature round type of bulb is planted in the open
field, it should not only bloom well the first season, but should
grow and divide, often making two or three more slabs. Aside
from the Chinese Sacred Lily. which may make six or eight slabs,
growers generally look with disfavor on the bulb that makes
more than four slabs, as this sometimes results in weakening the
blooming ability of later generations. Such a plant is said to
After being dug and cured in dry storage for some time, the
slabs are broken loose and planted to produce round bulbs for
market and the mother bulb is again planted to produce more
increase, which it will continue to do indefinitely under proper
cultural conditions. This mother bulb is the grower's capital
stock. and should not be disposed of or neglected.
Fi, A Ficld of Narcissus Bulbs, Paperuhite Varicty on [aft and Mhums Sared on Right,
r ~~~ ~~;1~
Fig, 8, Paperwhilc Narcissi,
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
It will be seen that, starting with round marketable bulbs
as planting stock, it-will be two seasons before one again has
round bulbs to sell, but by planting the mother bulbs back the
second year they should keep up the supply of slabs. enabling
the grower to turn off something each year thereafter. Some
of the larger slabs will split again instead of rounding up. and
some of the smaller ones will not make a round bulb of the size
required by the trade and must be planted back with the grow-
ing-on-stock if typical of the variety. This does not imply that
the grower should increase his planting stock with bulbs that
will not make the grade, but on the contrary, for the purpose of
keeping the stock up to a high standard, some of the very best
type round bulbs should be planted back each -year separately as
nursery stock from which to build up the strain.
At planting time, a careful watch should be kept for any
bulbs that are soft or diseased, or that are apparently not true
to type, and these should be destroyed to avoid getting anything
started in the field that is not wanted.
Owing to the fact that this crop requires a long growing
period, it has been found best to plant reasonably early in the
fall, September or October. but plantings made as late as De-
cember will do fairly well under favorable conditions. The early
fall plantings will be matured and ready to dig by late May
while the weather conditions are generally most favorable. Later
digging operations are frequently handicapped by summer rains.
and in some cases the bulbs start rooting an undesirable second
growth. Also, the bulbs that are dug out of dry soil are in much
better condition to go into storage than those dug wet.
The location for a planting should be carefully considered,
since a heavy investment is to be made. One should see that
adequate drainage is assured, the soil is free from Bermuda or
other grasses that are expensive to control, and is in a good me-
The rows are laid off with any suitable implement and the
depth is decided largely by the thoroughness of the drainage.
Where the land is tile drained or there is no likelihood of ex-
cessive water, furrows should be five or six inches deep. but where
Fig. I., Paperwhile Narcissi in Bloom,
'! ''np:~ V.f:dl 2 0:~
*a~r!l FCIIFC~I'r. ~ 'II
Fig, iD Digging Narcissi Ruibs With ~IedimnicaI Digger
BULB PRODUCTION IN FLORIDA
there is danger of excess moisture, such as the average "flatwoods"
field, it seems advisable to plow the field in lands. leaving an
open water furrow every fifty feet to carry off excess rainfall.
The rows may be run across these beds so that water draining
off between them will be carried off into the water furrows more
readily. In this case the planting furrows should not be more
than four inches deep. Sufficient furrows for this may be made
with a sled-runner type of marker having three or five runners
made of "2x4" scantling and weighed down to run the proper
depth. The bulbs are placed in the furrow about as far apart
as the thickness of the bulb itself, thus allowing room for
growth expansion. Next. the row is covered with soil, usually
by means of a wheel-plow furrow, to prevent the sun cooking
them. as they are very easily ruined by sunburning. Bulbs
should not be exposed to the hot sun more than 30 minutes.
Within a day or two a good ridge of soil is thrown on top
of the row to a depth of six inches to prevent the bulbs from
heaving out of the soil. which they will certainly do when start-
ing to root, if not held down by plenty of covering. Subse-
quently workings will draw the soil from the middle up to the
rows and leave them distinctly ridged. This completes the plant-
ing and cultivation will be needed only to keep down weeds and
grass and maintain a good ridge.
Care must be exercised in cultivation to avoid breaking the
roots. which spread widely. For convenience in working. the
rows should be about three feet apart.
Narcissi should not be harvested until the tops have com-
pletely died down at maturity, which is usually the latter part
of May or early June. But they should be dug before summer
rains start the bulbs into second growth. If dug in a growing
condition, the vitality of the bulb is likely to be impaired. The
smaller growers usually dig by hand. barring the rows off with
a small plow and lifting the bulbs with a potato rake, or by
running the plow directly under the row and turning it over so
that the bulbs may be picked up from the bottom of the furrow
slice. Great care should be exercised to get all of the bulbs, as
any remaining in the soil are likely to be completely ruined or
lost and those coming up the following season will be found
Fig. 11, A BIl Curing o0sem,
BULBS PRODUCT tION IN FLORII)A
weak, and in the wrong place to lit into the current planting.
The larger growers are now quite universally using a me-
chanical potato digger for liting the crop. This is proving to
be far the best. from the standpoint of both economy and effic-
iency. In all cases the bulbs should be picked up at once and
taken to the shade, as an hour's exposure to the hot sun likely
to result in sunburn and later, a dry rot in storage.
As soon as the bulbs are dug. they should be taken at once
to the storage or curing shed. which should be absolutely dry
and well ventilated. It should be arranged so that the sun will
not shine directly on the bulbs at any time. the most ap-
proved type of shed being located east and west the long way,
with a driveway through the center and bins on each side. A
building 24 feet wide has been found very satisfactory, provid-
ing an 8-loot driveway and bins 8 feet wide.
The bins should be built of strong material, as the load they
must carry will be heavy. lThe bulbs should not be placed in
them to a depth of more than six or eight inches. to avoid
heating. If piled up when freshly dug. or even left in field
barrels or crates over night. bulbs are likely to be injured by
heating. A good method of arranging the bins is to cut the floor
boards to standard lengths and leave them loose, so that as one
level is filled the next floor above may be laid. The floors
should not be closer than 12 inches. leaving several inches air
space between the bulbs in one bin and the floor above. Side
boards should be fitted to the bins to prevent the bulbs rolling
out. Provision should be made to lock the shed to prevent the
innocently curious visitor from handling the bulbs, taking out a
bulb here and there and replacing it in a bin of another variety.
The roof of the shed should be well built to prevent leak-
age on the bulbs. A cupola. or ventilator, the full length of
the comb has been found advisable for the maintenance of a
good circulation of air. The caves should be broad and low.
to protect the bulbs from blowing storms, and the sides should
be left open except for a closely woven poultry netting. to pre-
vent handling of the bulbs from the outside. Gables and ends
of the building should be fully exposed as a protection from
Fig, 12, Bulb Sizer-A Long Trough-like affair with Longitulional Bars placed End to End to Separate the Bulbs,
into Different Sizes, Courtesy United States Department of Agriculture,
BULB PRODUCTION IN F:IORIDA 27
sun and rain, although the doors to the drive may be slatted
to aid in air circulation.
During the first two weeks of storage, it is well to examine
the bulbs daily to determine if any heating is taking place. If
so, the bulbs may be stirred by means of a cypress pole pushed
through them in the bins. loosening them and letting the air
through. If the bulbs should be wet when stored this stirring
is essential until they become thoroughly dry.
CLEANING AND GRADING NARCISSI
After the bulbs have been in storage for six or eight weeks
and are thoroughly dried and cured. the separation of the grades
may take place. At this time. the slabs will be found some-
what loosened from the mother bulb and can be easily separated
with the fingers: the outer husk is dried and loose. and this,
together with the dried roots and any remainder of the top. may
be easily cleaned off. As the slabs are separated from the mother
bulbs they should be placed in separate bins and later planted
separately, as that is what the marketable bulbs are grown from.
The mothers should be kept separate for planting, to produce
more slabs. All round, single nosed bulbs. 12 centimeters and
more in circumference, should be carefully cleaned and prepared
for market. Bulbs from which slabs have been taken, or that
have been injured in any manner, should not be put in this grade.
TESTING FOR BLOOMING QUALITY
About the first of September, grower and buyer begin to
search for evidence of blooming quality. A market sized bulb
is selected at random and split from top to bottom. exposing
the exact center of the vertical layers of the bulb. At the base
of the center should be found a tiny cluster of embryo buds.
folded in an almost transparent envelope, which a few weeks
later will have advanced almost to the top of the bulb. Until
this embryo has become well advanced, the bulb should not be
forced into growth or the result will be that the growth of the
foliage takes the strength away from the bloom and the buyer
will complain of the bilbs being grassy. On either side of this
little bloom embryo may be found similar embryos of foliage,
which later develop into the offsets or slabs.
28 DEPARTMENT O- AGRICULTURE
After the grading is finished, the next step is sizing the bulbs
that are to be marketed. Some small growers use a board fitted
with holes of various sizes, and all work is done by hand, but
the larger growers. finding this very unsatisfactory and ex-
pensive, have imported mechanical sizers from Holland, which.
working by a system of oscillating shakers, convey the bulbs
over wooden screens through which the sizing is done very ef-
ficiently and rapidly.
Since the sales are based on the count in thousands, this
operation is of major importance. In Europe, where labor is
cheap. this is all done by hand. So far. the same has been true
here in general. But a counting table was evolved in 1927 that
should be in general use within a short time. A table is made
with a regular series of two-inch auger holes in the top, the
series begin in number 250 or 500. A false bottom of slats is
arranged closely underneath the table top, so that when shoved
home the slats will form the bottom of each hole or pocket.
A shovel-ful of bulbs is thrown on the table and one bulb
placed in each hole until all are occupied. when the false bottom
is pulled about two inches by the operator and the bulbs all drop
through the chute into the packing case. which is then known
to contain exactly a certain number of bulbs.
THE PACKING CASE
As yet there is no set standard for the packing case. two or
three different types being in use. The one most generally ap-
proved seems to be the one that is light and strong, having the
boards properly spaced for ventilation and of a size that will
hold 1.000 bulbs of 13 centimeters, this being the size to which
most crops of narcissi seem to run the heaviest. A 13-centimeter
bulb measures 13 centimeters in horizontal circumference. One
centimeter is 0.3937 inch. or approximately 2.5 centimeters are
required to make one inch. A 13-centimeter bulb measures 13
centimeters in horizontal circumference or 1.6 inches in diameter.
As the sizes advance, a less number will fill the crate. Thus.
one thousand 13-centimeter bulbs, nine hundred 14-centimeter.
and eight hundred 15-centimeter bulbs will be required per crate.
BULB PRODUCTION IN FLORIDA 29
A crate 30Q "xl3"xll" is in use for Paper-whites. It is made
of heavy veneer, wire-bound and having a panelled head. It
was found very satisfactory.
Because the Chinese Sacred Lily and Soleil d'Or bulbs are
courser and larger, a larger crate was adopted as a standard,
being 30 ""xl4:/4"xl4" and holding one thousand 14-centi-
meter bulbs. In any case, the bulbs should not occupy quite all
of the space in the crate, but should have room to shift when the
crate is turned over, as tight packing will lessen the ventilation
and may cause heating.
Care must be exercised at all times to avoid getting the bulbs
wet after curing has begun or they will immediately start root-
ing and grow, even though absolutely free from soil. After
packing, the bulbs may be kept for several months in dry, cool
storage without any danger whatever.
THE EASTER LILY
The Easter lily best adapted to Florida conditions appears
to be the Harrisii, which is of the lingiflorum type commonly
called the Bermuda Lily. It is too tender to be much of a success
in the more rugged climates of the North. It is found in
dooryards from Lake City south, seemingly quite at home. Until
recently, no efforts have been made to commercialize it to any
extent. The hardier lilies, such as the Regal. Canadidum, Rub-
rum, etc., will make a fine growth and bloom the first year when
planted here, but seem to become exhausted and disappear in
succeeding seasons instead of growing in numbers and adapting
themselves to our climate. The other varieties of the longiforum
species. such as Giganteum, Formosum and Erabu, have not as
yet met with as much success as the Harrisii, perhaps owing to
the fact that the latter has been naturalized here for many more
years than any of the others.
In Florida, the Easter Lily does not seed as freely as in some
other localities, and for this reason most of the increase is ob-
tained by vegetative propagation. viz: stem bulblets and scales.
ig 13, Easter Lilies in Bloom,
BLLB PRODUCTION IN FLORIDA 31
PROPAGATION OF EASTER LILIES
With the approach of maturity, the bloom stem develops a
setting of tiny bulblets at the leaf eyes that are just at. and just
below, the soil surface. These root independently the following
season and develop to a blooming size in one or two growing
seasons. This is the most natural method of propagation, but
where the grower wishes to increase his stock more rapidly, he
may do so by breaking the mature bulbs apart and using the
resultant scale of the bulb for propagation.
The general method following the breaking up of the bulbs
is to layer the scales immediately in some moisture carrying
medium. such as clean, coarse sand or peat muck soil that has
been thoroughly decomposed and is in good mechanical condi-
tion. Care must be exercised to avoid any possible agency of
decay, as the scales will rot at the least hint of infection. Some
success is had with scale propagation by scattering them on the
ground where they will have shade through the middle of the
day, and covering with a light mulch of leaves.
The usual method employed is to propagate in boxes, sift-
ing in a light layer of sand or other suitable material, and then
covering this with a layer of scales, another layer of sand, another
layer of scales, etc.. until the box is full. The sand should con-
tain barely enough moisture to prevent the scales from drying
out. The moisture content should be carefully watched, main-
taining only enough moisture to keep the scales from wilting.
The sand should be examined twice a week, and, if necessary.
additional moisture may be supplied by spraying water over the
surface with an ordinary fly spray atomizer. In about three
weeks, tiny pips should appear on the concave side of the scale
base where it was broken loose from the parent base. Within
a short time, these will assume the form of small bulblets, which
are quite identical with those grown naturally on the stem on
They are now ready to plant out in the open. If prepara-
tion was started in August, the bulblets should be large enough
to plant out about the first of October. which is usually after
summer rains and heat are over. Occasionally. the larger of these
bulblets will grow rapidly enough to put up a stem six or eight
inches the first season, and even. in rare instances one flower.
32 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
But growers usually cut the buds just as soon as it appears, in
order to conserve the strength for the bulb development. The
season's growth should bring the bulbs to a size that will de-
velop two or three flowers. The first size bulb in commercial
grading should be from 6 to 7 inches in circumference and un-
like the narcissus, lilies are always quoted by sizes in inches in
The planting season for Easter lilies in Florida is usually
September 1 to November 1. Since lilies must not be cultivated
after the bloom stems have reached a height of three or four
inches, the Dutch bed method of planting is advised. Lay the
soil off to a depth of about four inches and rake the bottom of
the bed level. Space the blooming sized bulbs about six inches
apart each way. setting them upright (smaller sized bulbs may
be planted closer and not so deep) and return the soil to cover
about four inches again, avoiding any possibility of manure or
any other agency coming in contact with the bulb.
DIGGING AND STORING OF THE BULB
Unlike most other bulbs, the Easter lily bulb should never
be dried out excessively or it will wilt and shrivel, thereby losing
much of its vitality. The natural season for the growth to start
is in the fall, with the approach of cool weather. The bulbs
may be left in the ground all summer, and, if dug at all, they
should be lifted just before rooting starts (usually late August
and September). They may be immediately rebedded, or kept in
a cool place away from drying air currents for several weeks.
Imported bulbs are generally packed in tight boxes of dry soil
and are immediately placed in cold or cool storage to prevent
either rooting or excessive drying.
If at digging time the grower wishes to leave the old bulbs
and remove the natural stem increase. he may carefully dig down
around the old stem and remove it with the bulblets, without
disturbing the old bulb at all. Where the soil is reasonably well
drained, it seems advisable not to disturb the old bulbs, unless
needed, for two or three years at a time, after which they should
be lifted and divided, to prevent root binding in clumps.
BULB PRODUCTION IN FLORIDA 33
CUTTING THE BLOOM
The Easter lily is considered not only a splendid plant for
bedding and potting, but also one of the finest for cut flowers.
The care and cutting of the bloom are important. Usually the
longer the stem, the more desirable the lily as a cut flower. But
one must bear in mind that the plant grown in the open will
not be likely to have as high a stalk as that grown under glass
or in part shade. Where the object is to produce bulbs as well
as bloom, the stems should not be cut too close to the ground.
At least six or eight inches of stalk should be left to assist in
properly maturing the bulb and should not be again molested
until it naturally dies down. which in most cases will be in
Unless one wishes to attempt to produce seeds, the anthers
should be removed as soon as the bloom opens, in order to
avoid the shattering of the yellow pollen over the pure white
interior of the flower, which spoils its appearance. This may
be done with the fingers and will be well repaid in the ap-
pearance of the flowers when on display.
The bloom may be shipped some distance by parcel post or
express if cut when the buds begin to show white. The stalks
are tied in bunches of six and rolled tightly in paper with the
buds straightened out carefully, and several bunches packed in
a well lined box or crate that is long enough to prevent bruising
the buds. Upon opening the package, the stems should be recut
and placed in water, when they will open quite naturally.
The so-called hybrids are the result of long years of care-
ful cross-pollination of the best obtainable stock. It is with
these that there seems to be the best opportunity for commercial
production. When properly hand pollinated, they will produce
good crops of seed, although they are slow to propagate by
natural division, while the Johnsonii is the opposite, producing
many offsets and almost no seed.
The individual flowers of the common amaryllis do not
usually measure more than three inches across, and are con-
fined to the one color red. while the hybrids frequently attain
a size of eight inches across the face of the flower and the
34 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
colors range from nearly pure white to the deepest maroon,
with many different patterns of white background striped or
splotched with brilliant colors of red and pink.
Fig. 14. The Amaryllis.
Courtesy Florida Agricultural Extension Division.
The bulbs may be planted in rows about 30 inches apart
and spaced four to six inches in the row, planted just deep
enough so that they are covered about two inches after the soil
BULB PRODUCTION IN FLORIDA 35
GROWING FROM SEED
For maximum seed production, hand pollination must be
practiced with amaryllis, taking pollen from one flower to use
in the next. being careful to use pollen from the very finest
bloom. The pollen is dusted over the pistil during the first
three days it is in sight and before it is self-pollinated, as the
latter condition usually does not produce much seed.
Seeds ripen four to five weeks after pollination. As soon
as the pods turn dark and show signs of cracking open they
should be gathered and dried for a few days. The seed should
then be removed and planted at once.
Some growers plant the seed in flats under half shade
slatted sheds, while others prepare a bed with a tobacco cloth
covering, similar to the usual celery seedbed. Care must be
exercised to keep an even moisture in the beds without having
it wet enough to be soggy. When the plants are well started,
it is well to raise the shade, allowing some sunlight. This
should be increased as the weather cools off, until the shade
may be discontinued by November.
Frequent applications of liquid manure and some commercial
fertilizer with light cultivation. will keep the plants in a thrifty
condition. They may be lined out in field formation in early
spring, when they should have a diameter of about three-quarters
of an inch.
The calla lily is a tuber instead of a bulb, and it is not at
all related to the lily family. However, it is usually classed or
graded with the flowering bulbs, owing to its habits of growth
and the fact that its bloom is shaped somewhat like the indi-
vidual flower of a lily. The foliage is medium dark green
with a large sized leaf, mounted on a fleshy stem from 12 to
30 inches high. The bloom is a single petal shaped like a
cornucopia, usually white shading to a delicate green cast in
the throat. One of the newer varieties. Zantedeschia elliotiana
or golden calla, is a beautiful yellow with light green leaves
splotched with white. This is very new to Florida and is
winning favor wherever seen. The White Calla is Zantedeschia
36 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
The tubers grow and increase very rapidly and, were it not
for a heavy decay most seasons, would soon be plentiful. The
parent tuber, when planted, begins to form increase as soon
as the tops are fully grown. The increase is in the form of tiny
tubers which grow from the eyes of the old one, starting their
own roots and foliage when about the size of acorns. If in a
favorable location they will spread to a solid mass of roots
and tubers in a year or two of growth.
Fig. 15. Tubers and Offshoots of the Calla Lily.
Courtesy Florida Agricultural Extension Division.
The tubers are planted for commercial production in much,
the same form as any of the bulbs, 4 inches deep in rows
about 30 to 36 inches apart. Flat cultivation seems to be the
BULB PRODUCTION IN FLORIDA 37
general practice. The foliage soon spreads out enough to shade
the ground. so that about all that is necessary is to keep down
So far as we know. the tubers should be left in the ground
until needed for other planting, which will probably be to-
wards spring, when they may be dug and replanted while they
have the least foliage. Many growers are troubled with the
tubers decaying in storage with a dry rot commonly called
chalking. A method of preventing this has not yet come to
our attention, although efforts are being made to avoid this
For years the hyacinth has been considered one of the fore-
most flowering bulbs of commerce in Europe and the United
States but. until recently, has not been considered adaptable
to Florida climatic conditions. and very little data is available
on results of trial plantings. One grower near Daytona Beach
who has been trying hyacinths for the past three seasons, now
believes that both the Roman and Dutch varieties will succeed
if properly handled.
The practice has been to plant in the early fall and the
crop is matured and ready to lift in May. The same fertilizers
and handling methods as with narcissus are used. Some are
planted in Dutch beds and some in single rows. and seemed
satisfactory. Cultivation has been flat. and somewhat less fre-
quent than with narcissus.
A recent inspection of this crop showed the bulbs to have
made excellent growth and normal increase by division. The
bulbs. which were in storage, were clean, well shaped and firm.
and compared very favorably with Northern grown stock.
One objection so far has been that the bloom stems. when
grown in the open are short.
A little experimental work has been done with the Crinum.
Eurcharis. Freesias. Mlontbretia. and Watsonia. but so far these
bulbs are of minor commercial importance in Florida. Tulips
have not been successful in Florida. although Northern grown
38 Di-PARTMi:NT Oi AGRICL.TURi-
bulbs have been fairly successful when planted in the late fall.
Cannas, although not a true bulb, are classed as such by
many people. They are generally planted from the first of
February up to Mlay or the first of June. as they do not stand
the winter cold very satisfactorily. Digging is started in No-
vember and continues for some time, often up to March or April.
In all plantings of bulbs of every kind there are always a
few scattered ones that are odd varieties, degenerates or other-
wise undesirable mixtures. To eliminate this condition as closely
as possible. a constant watch, especially during the blooming
period, must be maintained. Everything that is not true type
should be removed immediately before its identity is lost. This
requires a number of inspections and is considered one of the
most important items of successful bulb culture.
When the rogue is a standard variety, it is well to remove
it to its own plot in another field, but if it is not of a very
desirable standard variety the best practice is to destroy it and
avoid getting it back into the stock through someone's care-
lessness. Too much stress cannot be laid on the importance of
keeping the stock tree from mixtures and the grower who makes
a constant effort to keep his stock up to the highest possible
standard will bc well repaid for his efforts when going into
While the roguing process is taking place at blooming time.
where the bloom is not sent to market, it is well to pull the
heads off all bloom of the main crop when fully open to prevent
seeding. which will conserve some strength for the bulb and
simplify the inspection of later bloom for rogues.
The bulbs produced in Florida have so far been marketed
through established wholesale distributors in the North. This
practice has been very satisfactory. owing to the economy of
shipping in car-lots and to being handled by established firms
who have been in the business for years. Smaller growers have
clubbed together in assembling shipments. or sold through some
BULB PRODUCTION IN FLORIDA 39
DISEASES AND INSECTS
Although insects and diseases are not as yet a serious menace
to bulbs in Florida. it is reasonable to suppose that this may be
due to the newness of the industry in the State. Growers who
desire information along this line should write to the Florida
Agricultural Experiment Station. Gainesville. Florida. and the
United States Department of Agriculture. Washington. D. C.
LITERATURE ON BULB GROWING
The bulletins listed below will be of considerable value to
anyone who desires to go deeper into the subject of bulb grow-
ing. particularly Bulletin 48 by the Florida Extension Division.
1. Florida Agricultural Extension Division. Bulletin 48.
"Flowering Bulb Culture in Florida."
2. United States Department of Agriculture Bulletin No.
797. "Commercial Dutch-Bulb Culture in the United States."
3. United States Department of Agriculture Bulletin No.
1082. "The Production of Tulip Bulbs."
4. Department Bulletin No. 1270. U. S. Department of
Agriculture. "The Production of Narcissus Bulbs."
5. Department Bulletin No. 1327. U. S. Department of
Agriculture, "Production of Grape-Hyacinth Bulbs."
6. Department Bulletin No. 1331. U. S. Department of
Agriculture. "The Madonna Lily."
7. Department Bulletin No. 1459. U. S. Department of
Agriculture. "The Regal Lily."
8. Department Bulletin No. 1462. U. S. Department of
Agriculture. "American Bulbs Under Glass."