Now the garden at home is coming along, I’m starting to get into this horticulture malarky. So much so, that I recently stocked up on bulbs at the local garden centre so that there is some colour and interest as soon as Spring starts to rear its pretty head. Now that’s what I call forward planning. But I’m learning that gardening is all about forward planning, and he who waits, misses the bus entirely. Is that a mixed metaphor? I confess that this all stems from a desire to keep the ‘extra room’ that is our garden looking nice all year round, rather than a blossoming interest in all things growing. Well, I might be getting a bit interested. But I won’t be planting vegetables anytime soon. So anyway, some of my bulbs are already in containers, and some will be going in soon. It’s a learning curve, and I’ve had to do some research which I’m going to share here. Because I’m nice like that.
Spring Bulbs: Where?
It’s true that drifts of daffodils beneath a canopy of trees does look spectacular in the Spring, but unless you have a garden with a large lawn this is probably out for a lot of people. Especially as you cannot cut the grass until well after the flowering time ends (if you want them to come up again next year,that is). So for those of us with small gardens the solution is to plant the bulbs in containers. Any container will do, just be sure that the pot is deep enough (at least three times the height of the bulb) and that it has a hole in the bottom to allow excess water to drain out. I’ve collected up any old terracotta pots that were hanging around and bought some new zinc ones to add some contrast.
Spring Bulbs: When?
Tulips, daffodils and hyacinths are planted in the autumn, from September to December; before the first frost. Tulips do better if they are left until November. If you want to have Summer-flowering bulbs too, later in the year, such as dahlias and calla lilies, they are best planted in the spring as soon as the risk of frost has passed.
Spring Bulbs: How?
For proper drainage, start with a layer of old pot shards, expanded clay pellets or gravel in the bottom of the pot, over which you can put a layer of potting compost. Plant the bulbs into the compost making sure you have them the right way up (believe me it’s easier than you think to get this wrong) and making sure that the distance between them is no greater than the diameter of the bulb.
Put a layer of potting compost (any kind of soil as long as it provides good drainage) on top of the bulbs and tamp it down firmly. Water.
Now all you have to do is keep the soil moist and protect the bulbs against any frost. Wrapping them in straw or bubble wrap is fine, or move them into the shed or garage when temperatures drop below freezing.
Some prefer to use lots of flower bulbs in one pot for a really colourful result. But me, I prefer to use one colour per pot. Garden colour blocking. And much like I prefer to arrange my cut flowers. There’s also something called ‘lasagne or layer planting’. This involves planting flower bulbs in layers, one over the next, just as you would make a good ole lasagne. The bulbs that will flower later in the season are placed in the bottom layer, and the ones that will flower earliest are put in the top layer. This successive flowering means that you can enjoy the results for a long time: from January until May, depending on the kinds of bulbs you plant.
Go get planting.
Tips and images courtesy of Bulb.com