Once you know the secrets to bulb growing success you`ll know that bulbs are really quite simple. In fact, most of the bulb growing secrets are logical because in many ways they are like humans in that they want food, sunlight and room to grow. They’re also like us in that they don’t like to sit in pools of water for too long and yet rapidly deteriorate if allowed to dehydrate.
Keep reading if you want the detail on catering for bulb basics that will give you the expertise to enjoy a blooming successful Spring every year.
Unlike us, bulbs are much more limited in the climates in which they will grow. Most Spring flowering bulbs are easiest to grow in the cooler to temperate climates of Australia but, with a little extra attention, many can be coaxed into flowering in the subtropical climates also.
Avoid the temptation to plant bulbs in January and February because at this time of year the soil can still get very warm and your bulbs are in danger of being “cooked“, the result of which can be very short flower stems. We recommend that you defer planting until between March and mid May.
Spring bulbs require a free draining soil. In soggy soils bulbs are prone to rotting. If necessary soil drainage can be improved by `mounding up` the garden beds with extra top soil by at least 3 or 4 inches.
Spring bulbs require full sun to light shade only. If your bulbs have long, soft and floppy stems this is usually a sign that the bulbs are planted in too much shade the result of which is that the stems keep stretching as they search for the sunlight they need. Daffodils, Hyacinths, Grape Hyacinths and Cuban Lilies are amongst those bulbs which are able to tolerate more shade than most.
For best results, bulbs need to be planted at the correct depth & spacing. A good rule of thumb is that the holes should be twice as deep as the bulb is high and the same distance apart. The pointed end of the bulb should be upwards. (Anemone & Ranunculi are the only exceptions). If your bulbs are planted too closely together flowering will be reduced as each bulb can not find enough food & water for it to flower. It`s also important to plant bulbs deeply enough so that the stems are supported by the surrounding soil.
The secret to watering bulbs effectively is to keep them moist whilst they`re growing and keep them dry whilst they`re dormant. This rather complex sounding requirement is actually very easy to satisfy. You simply start watering when the green shoots appear above the ground & start with-holding water once the foliage starts to turn brown after flowering.
Even if you live in a climate with high Summer rainfalls (or you frequently water the garden beds over Summer) you can accommodate this bulb desire by digging the bulbs up once dormant and storing them somewhere dry until planting time again in the following year.
Just like us, bulbs flourish when fed well. A general rule of thumb is to top dress all bulbs in Autumn (or upon planting) & water in. Use a specialty bulb fertiliser or general fertiliser. For even better results, a second dressing can be applied once the flowers have faded.
After flowering, it`s important to continue watering your bulbs until the foliage dies back completely because it`s during this time that the leaves are collecting energy (they act a little like solar panels) that the bulb stores and uses in the following year to produce beautiful blooms for you once again.
Now that you know all the Spring bulb basics, you can grow them with a great deal of success. So give them a go & see how rewarding bulbs can be.