Useful Articles for gardeners of all abilities.
Flowers and Ornamentals
A bulb comes ready-equipped with the promise of a flower. In its previous growing season the bulb did all the work of flower formation, and the
embryo flower is now safely stored within the bulb. It’s just waiting for the right moisture and temperature triggers to start growing.
February’s the month when many spring bulbs become available in the shops. Buying bulbs early gives you the best selection, but it’s wise not to plant until the soil’s cooler. Store bulbs in a cool, dry place and, while you’re waiting to plant, prepare a well-drained spot by digging in some Dynamic Lifter pellets and good compost.
Buy tulips early but, remember, with tulips it’s especially important not to plant them too soon. In warm climates you should wait until late autumn. Tulips don’t like acidic soils so, if you’re in an area where azaleas and hydrangeas flower in shades of blue, sprinkle some Yates Garden Lime in the soil when preparing to plant.
Daffodils, the best-known spring bulbs, can be grown throughout New Zealand. They come in a wide range of flower forms, but the traditional yellow is still the favourite. When buds appear, begin feeding regularly with soluble Thrive Flower & Fruit.
Freesias flourish in most parts of New Zealand and their South African origins make them well suited to our climate. Good drainage is their number one requirement.
The most popular freesia variety is the traditional creamy-white â€˜Burtonii’ with its delicious fragrance. This does so well that it can become a roadside weed, so remember to remove the flower heads as soon as they’ve finished.
If you’d like more colour in your freesia display, then white, pink, mauve, blue or yellow-flowered varieties are available, some with double blooms (pictured).
Jonquils have fat, promising bulbs and tough constitutions. These bulbs are great survivors that can be left in the one spot to come up year after year. The most popular variety is Soleil d’Or, with its small orange-red cups surrounded by gold petals. Other jonquils have cream or white blooms.
In all but the warmest areas, bulbs can be left in the ground from one year to the next, but good feeding’s the secret to ongoing success. Water the growing bulb regularly with soluble Thrive Flower & Fruit. Continue feeding this way every one or two weeks, even after flowering, until the leaves have died down completely.
Good drainage is important, too. If soil stays wet for long periods (especially during cold weather) your bulbs will simply rot away.