Learning to grow tropical plants and bulbs in pots can be very rewarding, and you will find once you have a routine down, very effortless. Getting in the routine is the hardest part, however you will be glad you did once you get the learning curve figured out.
If growing tropical bulbs outdoors in the summer is a bit of a challenge to you, you are not alone. While the growing conditions for tropical bulbs or even forcing bulbs indoors require one set of rules, the growing conditions outdoors require yet another set of rules. Everything from choosing the right soil to water to fertilizer must be dealt with and adjusted to fit your particular growing environment. Growing any plant in a pot can provide a bit of a challenge, even for the most experienced grower, but it can be successfully accomplished with a bit of knowledge.
The Right Soil Can Make The Difference
Let’s begin by taking a look at the different choices available for soil. While a heavier potting soil is great for holding water, what about those times of heavy rainfall? Even with drainage holes, potting soil tends to retain water and thus causes root rot and eventually will cause your bulb to rot, unless of course, you intend to cover or move your plant under these conditions. Using a soilless mix to grow plants and bulbs in has its advantages. Not only does it allow the roots plenty of room to grow, but it dries out fairly quickly, even with large amounts of rainfall. The drawback to this type of mix is that you must water, sometimes daily. A great recipe for soil is to mix 1/2 potting soil, 1/4 vermiculite, and 1/4 perlite together and use it as both a seed starting mix and a potting soil. Your growing environment will affect your plants and the amount of care that they need. Although tropicals are known for surviving in hot, dry conditions, once you take them from their native environment into your own, you must adjust their care.
Providing The Right Growing Conditions
In the winter, most of us keep the same basic temperature in our houses, and of course, there is no wind, but summer conditions include rain, wind, and sun, so we must condition the plants to stand up to these extremities after they have been used to calm conditions. Providing shelter in the first few weeks they are outdoors, or even providing stakes so that the plants cannot fall over works fairly well. Another must is to keep an eye on them daily until you know just exactly which plant needs what when. Another idea is to make sure the bulbs are just showing signs of life and then immediately move the containers outside or keep the bulbs dormant until you are ready to plant them in the container. Many times bulbs will loose their initial leaves and have to re-grow them if they are moved from one condition to another during their growing period. Sometimes it is just easier to allow the bulb to go dormant in the pot and store the whole thing over-winter withholding water until spring.Another thought to consider is fertilizer. In the ground, a plant can absorb many things, but in a pot it will quickly absorb its nutrients. Rather you use a liquid fertilizer or a granule time released fertilizer is completely up to your preferences and the time you have to tend to each individual plant.