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Allium bulbs splitting

Discussion in 'General Gardening Discussion' started by NigelJ, Jul 29, 2021.

  1. NigelJ

    NigelJ Total Gardener

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    I grow a number of winter/spring growing Allium species in a cold greenhouse. Last weekend I was looking through the pots to see how they were doing and while all had survived; some had thrived and for others the one or two bulbs, I'd started with, had split into two to four small bulbs inside the "skin" of the original bulb.
    Does anyone know what causes this? What can I change in the care regime to encourage bigger bulbs?
     
  2. JWK

    JWK Gardener Staff Member

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    I suspect the weather as some of my giant onions have split this year for the first time
    20210730_100511.jpg

    Given that your alliums are more protected from rain in a cold greenhouse I suspect it must be the extreme temperature swings this year.
     
  3. JWK

    JWK Gardener Staff Member

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    Wish I could suggest a solution
     
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    • pete

      pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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      I think the weird weather this year is doing strange things to lots of plants, in the spring it was very stop start regarding growing, summer isn't turning out much different.

      I'm finding it one of the latest summers of all time regarding flowering of most plants.
       
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      • Black Dog

        Black Dog Gardener of useful things

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        Aehm... Why would you want to keep them from splitting? This is one of the ways the are multiplying and rejuvenating themselves.

        So dig them up every 3 years or so, break the bulbs apart, and gift them to neighbors, friends or family unless you have the place for planting them of course.

        I do the same with almost every bulb-based plant. Garlic is one of the most prominent. Plant one clove and harvest a whole bulb 8 months later.
         
      • NigelJ

        NigelJ Total Gardener

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        @Black Dog Full agree regarding garlic and shallots, less keen on my main crop onions splitting though.
        Ornamental onions like Mars will split into smaller bulbs if not planted deep enough resulting in a cluster of leaves and no flowers the following spring. Personally I find Mars is a thug and I am striving to get rid of it.
        The alliums I am having the issue with are small alpine species that like well drained growing conditions and dry resting conditions in summer. As these tend to be small plants with delicate flowers, growing in pots under cover enables you to see the flowers easily.
        Many of the bulbs are about 1 cm in diameter if that splits into 4 miniature bulbs, then you end up with just leaves and if they split again that's probably good bye.
        These are the sort of thing I'm talking about.
        Allium litvinovii
        Allium litvinovii.JPG
        Allium fimbriatum purdyii
        Allium fimbriatum purdyii.JPG
        Allium hyalinum
        Allium hyalinum.JPG

        Allium bolanderi
        Allium bolanderi.JPG
         
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        • NigelJ

          NigelJ Total Gardener

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          Had a suggestion from someone I talk to occasionally.
          Which was I need to keep them growing for longer.
          Extending the growing season for them does make sense to me.
           
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          • JWK

            JWK Gardener Staff Member

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            Kind of makes sense but how can you keep them going? They die back naturally.
             
          • NigelJ

            NigelJ Total Gardener

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            @JWK
            As I grow them in plastic pots, in an unheated greenhouse there is a chance that they the compost is getting too hot and causing them to shut down for the summer too soon. So move them out of the greenhouse to a cooler, still sheltered from the rain, spot. Or a sand plunge where the pots are buried in a bed of sand, this should moderate conditions and even out water supply.
             
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            • pete

              pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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              Just spoken to a mate who grows a lot of alpines, amongst other things.

              He suggested it could be an intermittent watering problem.
               
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              • NigelJ

                NigelJ Total Gardener

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                @pete your mate could well be right, over the years I have lost plants to overwatering so am on the cautious side.
                 
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