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Whatever your favourite spring-flowering bulb is, it’s time to start planning and planting! A little preparation now will result in much healthier bulbs and a gorgeous floral show.
Here are some tips to help create a fantastic display.
In a sunny location out in the garden, enrich the soil in the planting area with some Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food. It’s a rich source of organic matter that will help improve the structure of the soil, encourage earthworms and beneficial microorganisms and provide the newly planted bulbs with gentle, slow-release organic nutrients to promote good early bulb growth.
If space is limited, you can still enjoy growing some bulbs in pots. Tulips, hyacinths and miniature daffodils look wonderful in containers. If you use lightweight pots, you have the added advantage that, when the bulbs are past their best, the pots can be moved to less prominent positions where they can be allowed to die down in peace. Choose a pot or bowl with good drainage holes and fill with a quality potting mix such as Yates Premium Potting Mix. When planting bulbs in a pot, they can be grown quite close together, which helps create a lovely dense look.
‘Naturalising’ is the term applied when bulbs are planted under trees or in a lawn and left from one season to the next. Bluebells, freesias, sparaxis and ixias are some of the favourites that are used in this way. Flowers can be clipped off as soon as they have finished but leaves must be allowed to die down naturally. This means waiting until the leaves have turned brown before having a glorious, tidy-up mow. The after-flowering period is the time when the bulbs are building up reserves for next year, so take the opportunity to feed them as much as possible.
If you’re in an area with mild winters, you’ll need to take a bit more care when choosing your bulbs. Bulbs such as freesias, spring stars (Ipheion spp.) and the species gladioli do well in warmer areas. Cold climate bulbs like tulips may flower better if given a few weeks in the fridge before planting (note, the fridge, not the freezer – freeze your bulbs and they’ll turn to mush!). These bulbs are seldom successful for a second year. Planting bulbs a little deeper than is recommended can also help their performance in warmer areas.
Alliums, relatives of the edible onion, are cold lovers, as are fritillarias, hyacinths and the true snowdrops (Galanthus spp.). These are all most at home in climates with hard frosts and, ideally, some snow.
Bulbs that give you the blues … and the yellows. A touch of blue always adds class to a garden and, when it comes to blue-flowering bulbs, bluebells make an obvious choice. You can also try spring stars, grape hyacinths and the tall growing Dutch iris. For warm yellow notes, plant daffodils, Soleil D’Or jonquils, yellow freesias and/or golden tulips.