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Planting / Moving Martagons

By: Dr Reg A. Gallop

Martagons in green growth, can be moved anytime, with minimal root disturbance, in a ball of soil, into a prepared planting hole elsewhere, with little risk of any setback; including the induction of the " sulking" phenomenon, that may delay their emergence for up to 2 years later. Sleeping creatures resent interference, especially wake-up calls!.

Just after flowering, minus the flowering head, is probably the best time, as the plants are then not heavily burdened with reproductive stresses, after one has enjoyed their beauty.  If one wants some seeds from them, then one should wait till this demanding function is about complete, in Fall, before moving them; after taking the seed head off for maturation in Floralite, 50% 7-Up,  or equivalent.

Most Martagons that have been rendered virtually dormant, minus spent tops, with about dead roots, and over-wintered outside the soil in commercial cool-storages, and even in the ground, are likely to sulk, for a least a season, (like kids that have been forced to accept a room-change), before coming up for air and light, to renew their spent fuel supplies.   Getting used to the unique specifics of a new home, especially if very different from their past one, takes time, for all creatures.

Stored bulbs by Spring are likely to be more exhausted, than freshly-dug, semi-dormant Fall bulbs, when promptly re-planted, with some viable roots left, to help acclimatize them to their new home-site, before Winter may put heavy demands upon them, especially in climates like ours.   Hence, Fall planting of fresh bulbs, is usually better than Spring planting of old, stored ones.

One can dig Martagons just as they wake up in Spring, and move them again, in a soil-ball, without much risk; other than of breaking a shoot or two, while trying to find them, underground.  Careful staking, tagging and giving their likely centre of residence, a wide berth when digging the soil-ball out, with a small round shovel, not a fork, usually suffices, to save them from harm.  They rarely wander laterally.

Lilies do not grow a replacement bud, for broken shoots; as these are each the expression of the condensation of the tops-stems of the plant from each bulb / bulblet, from the last season's growth.  Losing such a shoot, robs them of the chance to rebuild well, via a good top, in the coming season. Such a shock, will normally trigger vegetative reproduction, per scaling underground; with often the parent bulb, becoming exhausted and dying; to be found next Spring as a shriveled shell, filled with bulblets. The damaged, topless  bulbs, will have to survive, on what ever nutrient/fuel reserves, that   they may have left, by the following Spring, when a new, poor shoot may emerge.   They will need 2-3 years of help, to regain their health, and vigour, back into a normal, timed,  growth cycle.

The actual response of any bulb, to being moved / replanted, will express in summary, the degrees of the various stresses, that may have been imposed upon it earlier; compounded by the likely effects of whatever conditions are imposed upon it, by such a move. Like us, once asleep, they resent being wakened too soon, or too fast. And when asleep, all creatures are in greatest danger; with most of their defenses then "unarmed".    The night predators capitalize on this.

And each one has its own internal clock, to further complicate our simplistic human hopes of trying to closely control these complex natural phenomena, as groups.  There are "sleepy-heads", "early risers" (like me, for most Summer days now by 4.30 am.!; with my heaviest work of each day beginning at sunrise), and "couch-potatoes",  dopey-lazy buggers, everywhere.