Our best ever bulb tips
It begins quietly with the little Crocus, the early Jonquils and the cute but unassuming Spring Star Flowers. The high notes follow as we see parades of glorious Tulips, drifts of golden Daffodils and sways of Iris. The tempo rises further as the riotous Ranunculi burst into colour and the fragrant Freesias strut their stuff.
Spring Flowering Bulbs truly are the highlight of the season. Their very appearance, breaking through the chills of winter, will easily lift your morale as they bring life and colour back into the garden! And they`re wonderfully easy to grow!
For the beginner bulbs may seem exotic – with many originating in distant and exotic places – but there`s nothing exotic about growing them. With just a little practise – and a few tips – you`ll be creating glorious spring masterpieces, just like the experts.
Best ever bulb tips:
Tips for where and what to plant …
- Be bold! Plant densely rather than in dribs and dabs. The effect is always more impressive.
- If you are really bold, plant Spring Flowering Bulbs in clumps and drifts (rather than long straight rows, rows only suit large scale parks or farms). When planting in large numbers, it is often easiest to first remove the soil from the plot, place the bulbs in and back fill. This way you can better see the layout you are creating.
- Stick to the one variety per clump. The result is more intense colour. It also guarantees that more blooms will be in flower simultaneously for a “fuller” and more generous effect.
- Choose colours that work with each other, whether they be contrasting or harmonious, the result is always much more pleasing! Plan for eye-catching highlights of red or gold or perhaps a drift of pretty blue or pink.
- Plant spring flowering bulbs where you`ll enjoy them. Perhaps along the path to the front door, lining the driveway or just outside the living room windows.
- Consider the neighbouring plants. Spring flowering bulbs can be used to handsomely fill the gaps in the garden left by dormant perennials. Or they could be used to draw attention to a garden feature (scarlet Tulips are very eye-catching!) or to bring colour to the shrubbery.
Tips for how to plant and care for bulbs …
- Plant large, healthy bulbs and handle them with care.
- Choose the right spot. Spring flowering bulbs perform best when planted in full sun to light shade in a friable, well drained soil.
- Wait until April or May to plant spring flowering bulbs. Most bulbs can be planted any time during Autumn but it`s best to wait until the soil cools down in mid May.
- Provide good, basic care. Spring bulbs have simple requirements and if these are met they will perform beautifully. Simply keep the soil moist whilst the bulbs are actively growing and keep the area relatively weed free.
- Satisfy their hunger. Just like us, spring bulbs flourish if well fed. This is simply a matter of feeding bulbs twice annually – once at planting time (autumn) and again just after flowering. Simply spread some fertiliser – such as blood and bone or composted chook manure – over the top of the soil and water in.
- Continue caring, even after the flowers finish. After the spring bulbs flowers have finished, nip off the flower head, feed the bulbs and continue watering until the foliage dies down. By doing this you are helping your bulbs build up their strength for flowering in the following year.
Tips and tricks …
- Use garden labels. This stops you from either forgetting what you`ve planted and/or where you`ve planted. The latter is quite important because many good spring bulbs have been ruined by having a shovel slice them into pieces.
- If you can’t remember which way is up, plant your spring bulbs sideways! The pointed end of the bulb is the one which should be pointed upwards (except in the case of Anemones and Ranunculi). However, if you`re unsure you can always plant the spring bulbs sideways and they will right themselves once they start to grow.
- Consider a mesh basket for planting. If you don`t have room in your garden to leave the spring bulbs in whilst the foliage dies back, you can plant the spring bulbs in a mesh basket which is, in turn, planted into the ground. After flowering, simply dig up the baskets – spring bulbs, soil and all – and place it elsewhere in the garden where the foliage can die back without detracting from your display.
- Plant for longer lasting colour! You can have a colourful spring bulb display that lasts from mid winter all the way until early summer. It`s easy with a little planning: simply plant clumps of early, mid and late flowering spring bulbs throughout the garden.
- Don`t forget the little spring bulbs. Plant the little bulbs to bloom like a carpet of vivid colour under the taller bulbs. These `little gems` are also excellent for adding brilliant colour to all manner of garden nooks and crannies.
- Over-plant with perennials. Flowering spring bulbs are absolutely magic and it`s easy to disguise the foliage at the season`s end by over-planting with summer flowering perennials. These perennials are the perfect partners for bulbs because they start growing in time to cover the dying bulb foliage and fill the gaps left behind with more colour for the season ahead. Favourite perennials for combining with bulbs include: Geraniums, Evening Primrose, Nemesias, Nepeta and more.
- Try under-planting with annuals! Bulbs under-planted with annuals opens up endless possibilities. Try pansies, violets, forget me nots or primulas in contrasting or harmonious colours. Plant blue pansies under orange or gold Tulips, plant white primulas under soft pink Tulips or Golden Daffodils. Let your imagination go wild! It`s fun and very effective.
- Watch out for slugs and snails! Slugs and snails consider spring bulb shoots a delicacy so be prepared!
These are our best bulb tips but, if you`re a seasoned bulb gardener please leave your own tips in the comment field below.