Distance Education Course
Learn to identify and grow hundreds of different bulb varieties
Broaden your horticultural knowledge, work on a bulb farm, or start a business
Have you always wanted to know more about growing your own flowers from bulbs? And would you like to do it commercially? This course is designed to develop your ability to select and cultivate appropriate varieties of bulbs as cut flowers, in different situations. It gives you an understanding of the various types used, their cultural needs, how to prevent and treat pest and disease problems. It also provides you with the basis of all good horticultural practice: understanding of soil types, plant nutritional needs and understanding plant families.
How Long is the Course?
Take as long as you want. Most people take around 100 hours spread over around 6 months; but if you want to put more effort in, that's OK, and you can take longer.
- Describe cultural practices for production of different cut flower bulbs, including the basis of all good Horticulture with understanding of soils, plant nutrition, and weed control.
- Understand the initiation and development of flowers in plants with bulbs, rhizomes, tubers, corms or other specialized parts. A look at the factors affecting the flowering stages.
- Learn how to manage any pests and diseases for a crop of cut flower bulbs or in the home garden.
- Manage the quantity and quality of a crop of cut flower bulbs, both grown in the open and in a greenhouse. In this lesson we also have a good look at the various systems of growing cut flower bulbs in greenhouses and look at ways to manage the environmental conditions in them.
- Learn about the management and the harvest/post harvest of cut flower bulbs.
- Explain the production of Lilium and Gladioli cut flower crops.
- Explain the production of Narcissus cut flower crops.
- Explain the production of Iris and Gladioli cut flower crops.
- In this lesson we look at the a comparison of a variety of different cut flower bulb crops.
This an example from the course notes Introduction:
Floriculture an Overview
Floriculture enriches the lives of millions of people every year and is an industry attractive to both scientist and artist. The term Floriculture is derived from Latin, and means “to cultivate flowers.” Flowers are in demand all year round with peak requirements at special times of the year, such as for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter, Christmas, and so on. Particular festivals often influence the type of flowers required eg. red roses for Valentine’s Day.
Floriculture businesses produce fresh and dried flowers and foliage for a mixture of markets such as wholesale flower markets, florists and retail outlets, and in some cases for export. The wide range of different flowers and foliage grown can include roses, carnations, orchids, native flowers, bulb and annual flowers, and tropical flowers. Some flower farms also grow flowers in open fields for their essential oils.
Floriculture includes propagating, growing and marketing of all cut flowers, flower seeds and seedlings, bulb growing, nursery operation, chemical protection of plants, post-harvest storage and handling and use of preservatives.
A proportion of flower production takes place in greenhouses. In addition to the greenhouse production, floriculture encompasses outdoor production of herbaceous plants and flowers, and field production of cut flowers.
The International Flower Market
Cut flower production is an expanding industry worldwide. It has a great deal of export potential, and although most flower producing countries meet the domestic requirements of their cut flower markets, the home market potential in many countries could be further developed. Spending on cut flowers is stronger in some countries than others, the average Australian for example spends far less on cut flowers than say, the average German or Frenchman).
Germany imports most of their cut flower requirements (up to 70%) with The Netherlands being the largest exporter to Germany. Japan and the United States have the largest cut flower market almost doubling that of Germany. During the later part of the 20th century, cut flower production developed rapidly.
Colombia, Israel and to a lesser degree, Australia, developed export cut flower industries rapidly during this period with China and India having the largest areas under cultivation (but low yields per hectare).
The Netherlands has been, and continues to be a major export market that also has a large domestic demand, the local demand almost equaling exports. Countries such as India and China although having large production areas are still in the developing stage mainly due to the low quality of exports and the financial constraints limiting imports. Colombia and Kenya export most of the cut flowers produced with only a small local market.
Being in the southern hemisphere means that some countries (eg. Australia, South Africa, New Zealand) are able to produce out of season flowers for the northern hemisphere where most of the world's population resides.
A true bulb consists of swollen fleshy or scale like leaves or leaf bases arising from a basal plate. Most home gardeners however, generally refer to bulbs as those plants which store food in a part of the plant below the ground. This includes the true bulbs, corms, tubers and some swollen rhizomes. These types of plants provide some of our most spectacular flowering displays. Some are also very fragrant.
A swollen root or bulb does not need heavy feeding when first planted as it will initially utilize its stored food supply. Because they are all grown for flowers, they generally need larger amounts of potash than other nutrients. They usually also have a dormant period and can be susceptible to rotting if left in a moist situation during dormancy (ie. their metabolism is slow in dormancy - this means their defense mechanisms are lower).
Most bulbs prefer a rich, organic, well drained loam.They thrive on soil which has been prepared with rotted manure or compost prior to planting.
Opportunities from this course to gain or create employment include:
- Farming of cut flower bulb production
- Greenhouse management of cut flower bulb production
- Managing the production of cut flower bulbs for the commercial market
- Maintenance of flowering bulbs in garden displays
There are 10 lessons in this course:
Introduction to Cut Flower Bulb Production
Cultural Practices that effect the production of flowering bulbs, such as soils, nutrition, etc.
Flower Initiation and Development. Consideration for the affects different cultural practices can have on flower production.
Pest & Disease Control. various pest and disease problems are over-viewed.
Managing Yield, Greenhouse Culture. We look at the specific aspects of growing greenhouse crops.
Management, Harvest and Post Harvest
Gladiolus and Liliums
Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.
TIPS FOR GROWING IRIS
There are over 200 species of Iris and many thousands of cultivated varieties.
• There are species which will grow well in most temperate and sub tropical climates; and some that will grow in climates even wider than that.
• Some will grow totally submerged in water, others will withstand extended periods of dry.
• Some tolerate snow and frost, some will tolerate extreme heat.
• Some like heavy shade, others grow well in full sun.
It is important to choose the appropriate type of iris for the conditions you plan to grow it in.
Dutch Iris is perhaps the most commonly grown "bul;bous" type of iris.
• Herbaceous (foliage dies down and bulb becomes dormant)
From: These originate as hybrids between Spanish Irises with an early flowering species including I. xiphium and I. tingitana
Sometimes written as Iris X hollandica (meaning a hybrid from Holland)
Conditions: Easy to grow if bulbs are kept clean and healthy, Plant bulbs 7 to 15cm apart. Grow in full sun or sun with light shade for part of the day.
Average water requirement. Avoid over watering.
Best in slightly acid soil, but will grow from pH 6.1 to 7.8
Leaf fungal diseases can cause early die back of leaves and stems and bulbs shrinking. Controlling leaf fungus can therefore be critical. Clean and sort bulbs discarding damaged or diseased bulbs when lifting
Some varieties also subject to mosaic virus causing yellow streaks in flowers. Controlling aphis is important to stop the spread of virus.
Growth Habit: Commonly 45 to 60cm tall
Flowering: A huge range of flower colours are available including: Gold (Yellow-Orange), Pale to bright Yellow, all shades of blue, Blue-Violet to Lavender and Purple, Maroon (Purple-Brown) and shades of White
Flowering occurs anytime early to late autumn.
Characteristics: Parts of the plant are poisonous and can cause skin irritation.
The number of Dutch Iris varieties is immense. The varieties that are commonly grown do vary from time to time and one country to another. Varieties with Bronze tones in the flowers are often weaker growers. The varieties listed below are just some of many that you may encounter.
Belle Jaune –Large clear yellow flower with orange falls
Blue Champion –Large bright clear blue flower
Bronze Queen –Blue to bronze falls, bronze and orange
Golden Harvest –Deep yellow flower, one of the easiest to grow and most prolific dutch iris varieties
Imperator –Tall flower stems, deep blue flowers, late flowering
Joan or Arc –Large cream to white flowers, delicate petals
King Mauve -Uniform soft mauve to blue flowers
Le Mogol -Yellow marking on deep bronze-mahogany coloured flowers
Lemon Queen -Citron yellow flower with sulphur yellow falls
Orange King Rich deep orange flower. Weaker growing variety.
Princess Beatrix –Rich yellow and deep orange flowers
Princess Irene –Large flower, pure white with deep orange
Professor Blauw –Bery large bulbs. Ultramarine violet blue flowers
Saxe Blue –Clear bright blue flower with a yellow blotch
Van Vliet -Older variety, Bright blue flowers with a yellow blotch
Wedgewood –an early flowering variety
White Excelsior –Snow white flowers with a small yellow blotch
TIPS FOR GROWING BULBS
How to Plant A Bulb
Most bulbs are planted when dormant (often in autumn); however because bulbs do flower at different times of the year so need to be planted at appropriate times; some may be planted at different times in different areas. For example in very cold places like Calgary in Canada, the growing season might only be 3 or 4 months of the year, hence planting might be done in late spring (for a variety which is planted late winter in some milder places).
Some bulbs may be transplanted when in growth from a container, or the ground. This is not common practice however if growing bulbs with the intention of producing a cut flower crop.
The time of planting any particular bulb should be determined by:
•Species - some species might prefer planting at one particular time of the year more than others.
•The area or locality - planting times might be restricted more in harsh environments.
•Availability of bulbs - the nursery industry produces different types of plans to become available for sale at particular times of the year. At certain times you cannot plant certain things because you cannot buy them.
•Attention to be given to the plant.
General Guidelines for planting a dormant bulb, corm, rhizome or tuber
a) Prepare the soil first, removing weeds, ensuring fertility, appropriate ph, drainage and water retention characteristics.
b) Plant with the top facing upwards.
c) In heavier soil (eg. clay loam) plant so that the top is as deep as the diameter of the bulb (or dormant part).
d) In lighter soil (eg. sandy soils) plant twice as deep (twice the diameter of the bulb or dormant root).
e) Small bulbs should have at 5cm of soil over the top of the shallowest part of the plant.
f) Spacing between bulbs should be determined according to the expected size that the plant will grow above the ground. Some small bulbs may only need 5cm between plants, but large spreading plants such as liliums may need 40cm or more between plants.
g) Make sure bulbs are planted in appropriate position for that species ie. shade, full sun, semi-shade and so on.
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