Califonia Bountiful

Gardening Q&A

Sept./Oct. 2015 California Bountiful magazine

As a California Bountiful reader, you have the opportunity to get your seasonal gardening questions answered by gardening expert Pat Rubin. Here are a few questions from our readers.

I have planted tulips for the past two years, but very few come up and I don't get many blooms. What am I doing wrong?

Except in the coldest parts of California, we simply don't have the right climate for tulips. It just isn't cold enough. The tulip bulbs you buy will bloom the first year, but very few will survive to grow and bloom again. To add insult to injury, gophers love tulip bulbs. I, too, planted masses of tulip bulbs one year, and the gophers missed only a handful. If you want tulips, buy new bulbs each spring and plant them in pots. I plant pots of tulips (make sure the flat part of the bulb faces outward, so the leaves curl out away from the pot—it makes for a prettier arrangement) and give them as hostess gifts when we visit friends.

My camellias are beginning to produce flower buds. Last winter when I attended a camellia show, I was surprised at how large the flowers were compared to mine. What varieties can I grow to get larger flowers?

The people who raise camellias for show thin the clusters of flower buds to one or two per cluster instead of the usual four or five, so the individual flowers can grow larger. Pinch away the two or three smallest buds in each cluster and you'll have larger, although fewer, flowers.

About Pat Rubin, California Bountiful's gardening expert

For Pat Rubin, gardening is more than just dirt and plants. "It's about history, romance, adventure and people," she says. "And it should be fun."

California Bountiful's gardening columnist has lived and chronicled this fun, hands-in-the-dirt approach for years—and for additional publications including Fine Gardening, Pacific Horticulture, Christian Science Monitor, Family Circle and The Sacramento Bee. Pat has also volunteered as a Master Gardener, speaks to garden clubs and appears regularly on gardening radio shows.

Need gardening advice? Ask the expert!

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