Want Spring Color in Your Garden, The Time to Act is Now! A Primer in Flower Bulbs

Bulb Garden

Do you want to know how to choose the best bulbs and give them a good start? The entire process from buying the bulbs to planting and growing them begins in fall. Tulips are gorgeous spring flowers that come in a rainbow of colors and a variety of shapes. If you plant tulip bulbs in fall before the ground freezes then you will get good blooms the following spring.

Springtime is the best time to enjoy all of the colors and patterns from your bulb planting efforts.  To extend your blooming season you can use a wide array of flower bulbs ranging from tulips to gladiolus, from oriental lilies to dahlias. Choosing the right flowering bulbs for your garden is essential; a few points worth keeping in mind when deciding on which bulbs to purchase are to buy animal resistant bulbs and healthy bulbs of good size to ensure healthy blooms.  An excellent supplier for your spring blooming bulbs can be purchased from DutchGrown.com.  Popular bulbs include Amaryllis, Daffodils and Tulips. These bulbs can be used for outdoor planting and making your garden colorful and attractive.

Amaryllis is an easy bulb to grow. Its enormous cluster of trumpet shapes blossoms last for up to 6 weeks. It requires bright light and moist soil to grow well. There are two main types of  Amaryllis Dutch Amaryllis and African Amaryllis. Dutch Amaryllis have more varieties and colors, which can be very tempting to a gardener looking for something different. The African Amaryllis mostly have clear, simple colors and smaller bulbs. Amaryllis grows up to 3 feet tall and comes in red, pink, white, maroon, green, lavender, & orange. There are other types of Amaryllis which include Benfica Amaryllis, Chico Amaryllis, Novella Amaryllis, Nymph Amaryllis, Popov Amaryllis and many more.

Another wonderful choice for a colorful garden is the Poet’s daffodil, also called poeticus or pheasant eye daffodils (Narcissus poeticus). The name “Pheasant eye” originated from their red-rimmed yellow or green cups that resemble a pheasant’s eye that are found in the center of each flower. There are many different daffodils to choose from; they are popular because of their low cost, ease of cultivation, and the visual effect they can create in mass plantings. They come in yellow, white, orange, pink colors and re-bloom easily.

Alstroemerias, also known as Peruvian lily or lily of the Incas should be grown in the garden where they will receive lots of sunlight and must be planted in well-drained soil. These are perennial flowers re-blooming year after year.  They come in a rainbow of colors except blue! These blooms are often used in cut flower decorations.

Another common bulb is the Anemone, also known as windflowers. These fall bloomers grow easily in most garden soil but they are especially well-suited to woodland or rock gardens. They have thin, silky petals in colors ranging from white, to blue, pink, or even red.

kids planting bulbs

Other flower bulbs to consider include the Crocus or Colchicum which has big white and pink colored flowers. The Crinum lily bulb which bears sweet scented flowers having huge leaves and is ideal to plant for your garden. Mirabilis a colorful old-fashioned plant, is ideal for child’s garden. It is also known as four-o-clock Mirabilis since its flowers open in late afternoon and close early in morning. One bulb, which every garden must have, is of Gladiolus. Their tall spikes of flowers come in a rainbow of colors and produce wonderful cut flower stems great for brightening up your home.

If pleasant fragrance is important to you then consider planting lilies.  The most potent perfumes are made from lily flowers. Lilies also have some of the brightest and most attractive petals in flower kingdom! There are many types including Asiatic, Oriental and hybrid varieties like the well-known Stargazer Lily.

tulips

Tulips bulbs are native to Turkey, but long ago Dutch bulb growers collected and hybridized them.  Now Tulips are one of the most popular garden bulbs available.  Tulips are known as heralds of spring blooming right at the beginning of the season.  They have a dramatic effect when used in mass plantings. Apart from all these bulbs, there are many, many more to choose from like:: Canna lily,, Ginger lily, Day lilies, Scilla, Red butterfly lilies, Winter aconite, Erythronium, Alocasia, Freesia and many more!  Try your hand at planting a bulb garden today and simplify the process by using a quality bulb fertilizer.

—Article Written by Daniel Clark

Tulip Field

Author Bio

Daniel is fond of gardening and supplier of bulk flower bulbs. Apart from this, he is also a blogger and passionate about writing articles related to gardening.

Not All Bugs are Bad: A Look at Beneficial Insects for Gardners

Praying Mantis  - One of the Best Garden Helpers  Photo Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Praying Mantis – One of the Best Garden Helpers
Photo Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Before you go and step on that beetle in your driveway because you are really mad at an aphid that ate your prize winning orchid, remember you might be crushing an ally.  Although some insects are harmful, many insects provide a tremendous amount of service to human beings. Beneficial insects are responsible for the pollination of many of our fruits, vegetables, flowers, and trees. Insects can be traced to much of the biodiversity in the plant world, as it is they who cross pollinate different species and genera creating new, never before seen hybrids. Insects break down organic matter and turn it back into nutritious soil. They also aerate the soil as they move through it. Don’t forget that some insects are also protectors of our gardens and our plants. There are several types of insects that are natural predators of those few insects which wreak havoc on our gardens. Those helper insects we dub “beneficial” insects.

Some of the beneficial insects to you as a gardener are:

Aphid Predators (Aphidoletes aphidimyza) are so effective that if placed in a greenhouse in the spring there may not be an Aphid come summer. In order to establish a breeding population, only a single release of 1,000 predators is usually all that is necessary. If the aphid population is already heavily established, then weekly releases may be necessary. Roughly 1,000 Aphid predators can treat up to 10,000 sq. ft. of grow room or greenhouse space. It is important to know that aphid predators have a soil resting phase as part of their life-cycle and as such they should not be used with predatory Nematodes.

Aphid Parasites (A. matricariae) are an excellent weapon in the battle against Aphids. They lay their eggs inside living Aphids, which then transform the living host into a leathery-looking “mummy”. Out of the mummy emerges a healthy new adult Aphid parasite ready to kill another pest.

Caterpillar Parasites (Trichogramma species) are a group of very tiny “stingless” Wasps that control over 200 different species of Caterpillars. When I say tiny I mean it – they can be less than 0.2mm, or 1/50th of an inch, from wingtip to wing tip. They lay their eggs inside moth or butterfly eggs, which destroys them. Then a new generation of caterpillar parasites is borne from the eggs to repeat the cycle. For maximum effectiveness, release the caterpillar parasites when a population of moths or caterpillars are first noticed.

Fungus Gnat Predators (Hypoaspis sp.) control Fungus Gnats and many other small soil-dwelling insects, Mites, and Springtails. However, they only provide about a 30% control of the Western Flower Thrip. Fungus Gnat Predator eggs hatch in 2-3 days, and they finish their life cycle in about 11 days at 68° Fahrenheit. Be careful to maintain temperatures above 60° Fahrenheit because if the temperature dips below 57° they become inactive. Fungus gnat predators are hardy and will thrive in most growing conditions with the exception of extreme wetness or drought. If fungus gnat populations are low then the introduction of 5,000 predators can treat as much as 200 square feet of growing space. Larger pest populations will require more predators.

Green Lacewings (Chrysopa rufilabris) larvae look like tiny alligators and voraciously eat almost any type of prey they can get a hold of. To introduce Green Lacewings into your grow space sprinkle the eggs or larvae around your garden. Lacewings will search for a meal up to 100 feet away.

Ladybugs (Hippodamia convergens) are a perennial favorite of gardeners. They are able eat over 5,000 Aphids or other soft-bodied insects during their one-year lifespan. Ladybugs can be stored, dormant, in a refrigerator for several weeks as long as they don’t freeze or dry out. This is very convenient as you can purchase them early and only release them as needed a few at a time. A good tip is to spray them with soda (cola) before you release them which will temporarily glue their wings together for about a week. This will keep them from flying away from your garden immediately upon release.

Mealybug Destroyers (Cryptolaemus montrouzieri) are tiny (1/8th of an inch) black Ladybugs that are native to Australia. They are one of the most effective beneficial insects as they provide excellent control of those fuzzy pests. It only takes about 2 to 5 destroyers per infected plant as they have a voracious appetite.

Pirate Bugs (Orius insidiosis) are a great choice for the control of Thrips, but they also eat Spider Mites, insect eggs, Aphids, and some caterpillars. Although Pirate bugs may be harder to obtain and more expensive, they are the pest you go to when other controls just have not worked.

Praying Mantis (Tenodera sinensis) are a sign of calmness and introspection in some cultures. Just watching them move gracefully and slowly in the garden can be a real treat. Praying mantis, or Mantids, wait patiently and still – blending into their surroundings before striking with lightning quickness when they see prey. They are aggressive carnivores and will eat almost any insect they can catch. When they are at rest, Mantids hold their forelegs together giving the appearance that they are praying. From this position they are capable of quickly striking prey and holding it in their powerful grip.

Predatory Nematodes (Heterorhabditis & Steinernema species) are a wonderful ally against garden pests. They destroy over 250 different harmful pests including Fleas, Thrips, Fungus Gnats, even insects as large as Cutworms! Nematodes are roundworms and most are microscopic.  They spend their life wiggling through the soil just waiting to eviscerate the larval stage of an insect who has decided to make your garden soil its home. Nematodes are simply mixed with your water and applied to the soil or growing media. From there they do nothing but search out and destroy harmful critters.

Spider Mite Predators (Phytoseiulus persimilis, Neoseiulus californicus, & Mesoseiulus longipes), as they are known in garden circles, belong to the family of mites called Phytoseiidae. Phytoseiidae feed on spider mites (hence the name), but also on mite eggs and Thrips. These little voracious eaters can take down 5 spider mites a day or 20 Spider Mite eggs. Due to different growing environments, some species are more appropriate for one situation over another. Phytoseiulus persimilis can thrive in a wide variety of temperatures ranging from 55 degrees Fahrenheit to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but can only handle 55-90% humidity. Neoseiulus californicus like temperatures ranging from 55 degrees Fahrenheit to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, but require higher humidity – above 60%. Mesoseiulus longipes are tolerant of temperatures from 55 degrees Fahrenheit to 105 degrees Fahrenheit and thrive in lower humidity – from 45-90%. The nice thing about Spider Mite Predators is that they breed twice as quickly as Spider Mites allowing them to control spider mite populations effectively.

Spider Mite Destroyers (Stethorus punctipes) are actually a type of lady beetle. The adult Spider Mite Destroyer is black and shiny in color, and is about 1/16 inch (1.5 mm) long. Adults and larvae each consume about one-half dozen mites per day. Females typically live one to three months, during which they lay about 100 to 200 eggs.

Thrips Predator Mites (Amblyseius cucumeris) are a most effective measure of control for Thrips in higher humidity environments ranging from 70-85% humidity. Due to their poor performance in lower humidity, they are generally only utilized in greenhouses.

Whitefly Parasites (Encarsia formosa) are small but mighty. They lay their eggs inside the pupae of Whiteflies and, instead of a Whitefly hatching, out pops another Whitefly Parasite.

Whitefly Predators (Delphastus pusillus) are your best friend when fighting an uphill battle against an established populations of Whiteflies. Able to eat up to 600 Whitefly eggs per day, these tiny creatures will desolate Sweet Potato Whiteflies and Silverleaf Whiteflies.

Beneficial Insect IPM Chart

 

The list and chart above are nowhere near complete, but they do represent those insects that are readily available and commonly utilized in gardens as an organic method of control. Part of choosing to use beneficial insects as opposed to chemicals is at the heart of an approach to gardening known as integrated pest management or IPM. This is a style of growing where, simply put, one chooses to monitor their garden regularly and deal with problems preventatively and proactively – not reactively. By keeping an eye on disease or pest outbreaks, you can better control them before they get out of hand. Another component of the IPM approach is to use the least harmful option available to the environment and to the grower. This in practice means that a grower would first monitor the garden using something like a sticky yellow trap, then become aware of a pest outbreak, then choose the least toxic and most environmentally conscience option of treatment available. You might escalate from beneficial insects to an insecticidal soap, and if that is not working then go to a naturally derived pesticide like Pyrethrum

If your bug problems still persist then, and only then, would you choose to use a more dangerous chemical pesticide to achieve control. Remember that bugs outnumber us 1.5 billion to 1. Eradicating all bugs from your garden can be a daunting task and one that leaves you pulling your hair out. It is much easier to release a bunch of beneficial insects and let them do the work for you without resorting to chemicals.

High Meadows Students Learn Hydroponics

Atlantis worked with High Meadows School students to teach them how to grow vegetables in a hydroponic garden. They took our knowledge and ran with it – all the way to their plates!


David Teaches Hydroponics Students Hydroponic Salads

High Meadows is a non-profit, private school that teaches preschool through eighth grade and emphasizes environmental responsibility as a part of their curriculum. They have taken steps beyond students’ curriculum, such as purchasing policies aimed at lessening their environmental impact and receiving LEED Gold certification of their Community Center Building.

The Atlantis crew made a trip to High Meadows to demonstrate hydroponics, different grow mediums and how to get started with a garden of their own. With a small hydroponic system, the students at High Meadows grew enough food to make salads for the entire class!

High Meadows Hydroponics

Does your school participate in gardening or a Farm To School program? We would love to hear about it! Interested in starting a gardening project? Give us a call!

Read more about Atlantis at High Meadows. If you would like to learn more about High Meadows, visit their website: www.highmeadows.org

Bonsai at the Smith Gilbert Botanical Gardens

This past weekend, Atlantis employee David Kessler (an accredited American Orchid Society judge) gave a presentation on how to grow orchids in your home and under lights at the Smith Gilbert Botanical Gardens. The gardens are also home to one of the premier collections of Bonsai in the southeast. There are more than sixty plants that comprise this aspect of their beautiful garden. Some of the trees are over 300 years old!

David came back with these beautiful pictures, including the picture below of a 300+ year old Pond Cypress, which is a must-see-in-person kind of plant.

Bonsai Tree

Take a look at some of the rest of the beautiful collection of Bonsai at the Smith Gilbert Botanical gardens in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Bonsai Tree

Bonsai Tree

If you have the time, stop by and check out the beautiful plants, sculptures, and Bonsai at the Smith Gilbert Gardens. And remember that if you have questions about how to grow your orchids, help is just a phone call away. David can be reached to answer your orchid and gardening questions at our Atlanta location: 404-367-0052.

World’s Largest Basil Leaf?

Atlantis Hydroponics has grown what appears to be the largest basil leaf ever recorded! We are growing an heirloom strain of basil with the leaves measuring over 6×9 inches. The previous record was a basil leaf that was 8×4 inches. As you can see, the basil leaf grown in our Atlanta location is quite large. It is the use of modern indoor agriculture techniques and hydroponic growing methods which made this possible.

Basil Leaf Grown In Hydroponic Garden

Our basil growing in the left side of this hydroponic system and along with our other leafy greens:
Basil In Hydroponics System

Taste Testing Chocolate Bhutlah Peppers

Since they were first planted, we have anxiously anticipated when the chocolate bhutlah peppers in our garden would be ready for harvest. This week, a few of these hot peppers were finally ready and we could not wait to give them a try!

They barely made it inside before a few of the Atlantis crew wanted to experience the flavor (and heat!) of these peppers that looked as sweet as chocolate. So, one was cut into small bite-sized pieces and the taste test was underway! The final consensus of the taste test – they are HOT! I did, however, overhear someone mention they were not as hot as the Scorpion Trinidads. We leave that up to you to decide. In the meantime, enjoy as much as we did!

Chocolate Bhutlah Pepper

Chocolate Bhut Pepper Tasting

McEachern High School’s Hydroponic Garden

It is officially October and that means National Farm To School month! In celebration, we will be highlighting a few of our past and current community projects – like McEachern High School!

Whether it has been science fair projects, STEM grants, or helping to teach others about indoor or outdoor gardening, Atlantis has been a part of the educational community for quite some time. We began working with McEachern High School in the fall of 2013 by helping them apply for a STEM Grant, which they were awarded! With their grant, they began to overhaul an existing greenhouse they have on campus. Atlantis was able to help by providing consultation on the set up and use of their new hydroponics systems.

Read more about McEachern’s gardening efforts and view more pictures of their student and faculty gardeners by visiting our Outreach page.

McEachern Greenhouse
McEachern Hydroponic System

Help Us Grow – By Helping Us Win A Grant!

Help Atlantis Hydroponics grow by voting for us to receive a grant! Be a part of our mission to help communities become healthier and more sustainable. All you have to do is visit our profile at Main Street Missions Grant and vote! Please share with friends and family – voting ends soon!

Atlantis Grant

Be sure to visit: https://www.missionmainstreetgrants.com/business/detail/21345

How To Germinate Seeds

Germinating seeds, or getting seeds to sprout, is a very easy process that only requires a few supplies. With this How To Germinate Seeds guide, your seeds will be ready in just a few days for planting in your organic indoor or outdoor garden!

How To Germinate Seeds

Supplies You Will Need:

  • Seeds of your choosing
  • 1 gallon of water
  • 1 tablespoon of unscented bleach
  • Paper towels or napkins
  • 2 plates

Steps To Germinate Seeds:

  1. Mix the bleach into the gallon of water
  2. Wet several layers of paper towels with the bleach/water mixture.
  3. Line the bottom of a plate with a few of the wet paper towels. Drain any excess water from the plate.
  4. Place seeds on top of the wet paper towels. Be sure to allow space between each seed.
  5. Place a few more wet paper towels on top of the seeds. Again, drain off any excess water.
  6. Cover everything with the second plate, placed upside down, to form a “clam-shell” shape.

You are now on your way to germinated seeds! Simply store the plates away from direct light and in a warm environment (around 70oF). Check your seeds every day to make sure the paper towels stay moist. If necessary, spray the paper towels with the bleach/water mixture if they start to dry out. Within a few days, your seeds will begin to open and produce a root. Typically, seeds will begin to open within 72 hours. Some seeds may need up to two weeks to open.

Planting Your Germinated Seeds
When a few millimeters of root are visible, carefully transfer each seed to a starter plug or small container of growing medium like soil, coco, or rockwool. Place the seed into the growing medium with the root end pointing down. Make sure the hole in the growing medium is about twice as deep as your seed is long, which will be about 1/4 – 1/2 inches below the surface.

Time For Seedlings!
Seedlings typically begin to emerge from the growing medium within 24-72 hours after planting your germinated seeds. Give your seedlings access to light once they emerge. Seedlings are delicate. Give extra care during the first two weeks.

If your seedlings will be grown in an indoor garden:

  • Seedlings can be put into an artificially lit environment without issue
  • If using fluorescent lights, keep seedlings 10 – 12 inches from the bulb.
  • If using HID lights, keep seedlings at least 2.5 – 3 feet from the bulb.

If your seedlings will be grown in an outdoor garden:

  • Begin to acclimate your seedlings to direct sunlight by placing them on a windowsill for an hour per day.
  • Increase their exposure to direct sunlight by an hour or two per day.

Click to download a printable PDF of How To Germinate Seeds to start seeds year-round!

Need supplies to get going? Try some of these suggested products:
Starter plugs
Seed site starter kit
Rockwool starter cubes
Promix growing medium
Natural coconut coir
Coco Substrate growing medium
Seeds

Gibbs Garden: World Class Garden in Georgia

Gibbs Garden is a 300 acre garden located in Ball Ground, GA. It is considered one of the largest residential estate gardens in the U.S. One of our customers recently visited this beautiful garden and graciously send us a few images to share!

Gibbs Garden

This hidden treasure is open to the public to explore the hundreds of acres that are filled with plants and flowers. They also have flower festivals throughout the year. If you live in the metro Atlanta area, Gibbs Garden would make a great day trip!

Gibbs Garden
Gibbs Garden
Gibbs Garden
Gibbs Garden
Gibbs Garden