It's time to spring into bulb planting action this autumn...
You really cannot beat spring flowering bulbs for sheer colour spectacle, value and ease of growing. You know when those dainty Crocus buds pop through the soil it's a sure sign that the end of winter is finally in sight. From the dazzling Daffodils and the brashest Tulip to the perfume packed Hyacinths, spring bulbs are just the thing for banishing the winter blues. For the very best display from early 2015 plant all bulbs in autumn (Tulips by the end of November), at three times their depth, and look forward to a cheery display come spring.
When to plant
For spring colour for next year, bulbs need to be planted this year between September and December, ideally before the first frosts. Choose from a huge selection of varieties, colours and sizes from Daffodils, Tulips, Crocuses, Grape Hyacinths, Fritillaries, Alliums and many more.
What to look for when buying bulbs
Look for a healthy bulb, one that isn't damaged, shrivelled or soft to the touch. Choose a firm, plump bulb, ideally before it has started to sprout. Always check the quality of the bulbs before buying.
Herbaceous borders: Planting drifts of Daffodils, Tulips or even Alliums in your borders helps to fill in the gaps with interest before the perennials and shrubs start to emerge and take over. Choosing colours to blend in with your themes can enhance any border and also provide extended interest through the gardening calendar.
Using containers can add colour to any situation. The advantages of containers are that they are moveable and can be changed when the display starts to go over. When growing bulbs in pots, choose a container, with drainage holes, add some broken crocks at bottom, then some compost, and some horticultural grit for drainage. Place bulbs with point facing up, packing them tightly together. A nice idea is to layer different types of bulbs, at different depths, according to when they flower, with the earliest flowering ones at the top. This way when they fade a different bulb will take over. See below.
Bulbs in lawns
Winter Aconites and Crocus are a great favourite for short grass as they are long gone before the lawn needs cutting. Generally scatter the bulbs and plant them where they fall using a long handled bulb planter or trowel. Dig out a plug of soil, drop the bulb in, flattest side down and then replace the plug. If you want clumps then using a spade, lift a good flap of turf off and plant bulbs, placing the turf back over. Over a period of time the bulbs will naturalise, transforming a dull looking lawn into a blaze of colour.
Daffodils (Narcissus) can be planted in tubs, garden borders, in lawns or in woodland settings. They provide a magnificent splash of colour and come in many shapes, sizes and colours.
When should I plant Daffodils?
Ideally they should be planted between September and October, but a November planting should still give a good result. When you have purchased your bulbs store them in a cool place with plenty of ventilation. The roots of the bulb will start to grow as soon as you plant them and you may even see signs of growth as early as December!
How deep should I plant the bulbs?
They should be planted at least twice as deep as the bulb is high, so 12-
Should I water the bulbs once I have planted them?
Once planted, water them in, but after this normal rainfall should be sufficient for their needs.
What should I do with the foliage after flowering?
For many generations the foliage of Daffodils was tied up. This practise is no longer advised. Allow the foliage to die back naturally which normally takes 6-
Should I lift Daffodils?
Daffodils are best left in the ground. Unless the clumps become congested, leave in. If you want to move them or divide, allow foliage to die back and then move, discarding the small bulblets.
Can Daffodils grow in containers?
Daffodils are great for containers. Add some crocks (broken pots or polystyrene pieces from packaging material) to the bottom, use multi-
For many, Tulips steal the show. Introduced 400 years ago, they have gone on to become available in many colours and varieties. They look great in tubs, containers and fantastic in borders. They like to experience a cold winter, plenty of water in the spring and then a hot summer. If they get close to these conditions then they do well.
When should I plant Tulip bulbs?
How deep should I plant Tulips?
Plant Tulip bulbs 10-
Darwin hybrids can be left in the soil to come back every year for repeat performance. Anything else has to be lifted and then stored in a cool airy place so that they can be dried out and then ideally stored in a sack until next year, remembering to label up each variety. Tulips tend to rot if left in the ground.
How to plant up a tulip container
Choose a suitable container, remembering Tulips are tall so the container needs to be matched in size. Use a multi-
There is a huge range of bulbs available in the Garden Centre to buy, too many to cover individually here. However, each packet will provide information on planting distances and spacings and ideal conditions for the bulbs. Follow instructions provided by the suppliers. Alternatively, come and have a chat with someone in our Plant Advice Office.
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Buckingham Nurseries and Garden Centre,
Tingewick Road, Buckingham, MK18 4AE, UK.
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