Flowering bulbs are brilliant! These ‘buried treasures’ create lasting shows of brilliant colour. Adding a range to your garden beds can bring an easy succession of colour year round.
One of the great joys of being a gardener is that you constantly discovering and trying new things all the time. Bulbs allow you to do this relatively cheaply and with a high degree of success.
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. Note the climate in our mail order and online catalogues for what will grow best where you live. Many of the summer flowering bulbs hail from warmer lands, and are just as happy in cool climates.
Most flowering 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 to create raised beds with extra top soil by at least 5-10cm. You can also ‘dig through’ some well coarse sand, and well rotted compost or manure to help with drainage and add nutrients.
For best results, flowering bulbs need to be planted at the correct depth and spacing. A good rule of thumb is that the holes should be two to three times as deep as the bulb is high, and the same distance apart. The pointed end of the bulb should be upwards (Anemone and Ranunculus are the only exceptions). If your flowering bulbs are planted too closely together, they will be fine for the first year, then in the following seasons flowering may be reduced due to competition, as each spring bulb cannot find enough food and water for it to flower. It’s also important to plant bulbs deeply enough so that they are protected from the heat.
The secret to watering bulbs effectively is to keep them moist whilst they’re growing and keep them relatively 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 and start withholding 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) and when they are flowering in spring. Once you apply the fertiliser you need to water it in. Use a specialty bulb or general purpose fertiliser.
During flowering the bulbs are putting all their energy into producing a flower. Once the flower has finished you should cut it off so the energy does not focus on seed production. Keep your bulb watered at this time as it is making maximum growth to ensure flowers for the following year. This is why you fertilise and water now – underground the bulb is already working towards next years show, the leaves are collecting energy the bulb will store and use for more beautiful blooms.
Now that you know all the spring bulb basics, you can grow them with a great deal of success. We have created a table for you to time your bulb displays to provide your garden with accents/pots/swathes/pops of colour year round.
Make sure you get a copy of our current summer 2016 catalogue, feast your eyes on the many buried treasures to choose from and then fill your gardens with their charm!