Purchasing Lily Bulbs & Fireblight Contamination

Question:

 I'm looking to plant Lily Bulbs, but I can't find them at the local nursery. They're featured in many of my fall gardening catalogs, but none are available until the spring. Why is that?

Answer:

  • From a horticultural perspective,  Lily Bulbs don't require the winter chill like tulips, daffodils, and other spring-flowering bulbs to bloom and they haven't gone dormant. The spring bulbs have been dormant for months. Now from the marketing angle, 
  • Tulips, Daffodils, and other spring-flowering bulbs have strong appeal, while the summer flowering bulbs appeal to a smaller group. Catalogs are expensive to develop and market, so they include the summer flowering bulbs and gardening accessories to build larger orders.
    • They're not localized but instead distributed nationwide. For example, they can feature Lily of the Nile (Agapanthus) and Daylilies, but these are available to Bay Area gardeners in containers most of the year. They are designed to sell the sizzle. Independent garden centers will carry Amaryllis bulbs. In February, you will find the Hybrid, Asiatic, Oriental, and other large-flowered specialty lilies.
    • Catalogs will take orders now and ship later. Lilies go dormant long after the spring-flowering bulbs. I'd check the small print for shipping information.
    • Whenever they arrive, it's unlikely that these bulbs will dehydrate when stored in a garage or storage shed. I'd leave the shipping box open for good air circulation.
    • The bulb packages should have breathing holes. If not, open the bags, so the moisture is released. This prevents the bulbs from getting soft and mushy.

Question:

 I have some Evergreen Pears, Pyrus Kawakamii, that have Fireblight. My neighbor is complaining that it is killing her potted plants. What can I tell her that Fireblight is not her problem? I've read where the Blight is a bacterial disease.

Answer:

  • Fireblight is a bacteria disease that affects plants that belongs to the rose or Rosaceae family. We would typically see it on apples, pears, crabapples, and Asian pears but not apricots, peaches, cherries, or other stone fruit trees. It also attacks woody ornamental, landscape shrubs such as pyracantha, cotoneaster, photinia but not roses or any herbaceous plants.
  • The bacteria is air-bone and enters through the flower only when the host is in bloom and then travels down the phloem tissue. Phloen and Xylem make the vascular bundles in plants and moves water and nutrients throughout the species.
  • The disease doesn't contaminate another plant by casual contact. Hence, I doubt it is the cause of the potted plants dying.
 

Fireblight is only apparent when the dieback occurs. It starts at the terminal end of a branch, where flowering occurs and spreads downward. The plant looks fine one day, and the next, there is a section where the leaves collapse and turn brown like they have been hit with a blowtorch. The best control method for the home gardener is to prune out the damage. You should prune down about a foot below where the damaged tissue is. Remember, the bacteria is traveling downward, so it is more than likely beyond the section or sections that has turned brown. Also, It is also critical to sterilize your pruning equipment after every cut to avoid transferring the disease to healthy tissue. Alcohol or Lysol works well.