Tips on Growing Bulbs

Bulbs are always popular, and in the U.K. are a sign that spring is on the way.

When buying bulbs, always select carefully. Good bulbs are plump, firm and free from blemishes. They should also be a good size (for the type) as if they are too small they may not flower in the first year.

Bulbs are best planted in clusters. They look good under a tree, in a tub or in window boxes.

If planting bulbs in grass remember to choose low growing varieties such as “February Gold” or “Jenny” daffodils or Kaufmanniana tulips. To achieve a random look, scatter the bulbs onto the lawn and plant where they fall. Remember bulbs planted in lawns make mowing trickier.

Bulbs suffer if they are not planted deep enough. As a general rule they should be planted at three times the depth of the bulb, i.e. if the bulb measure 2″ from top to bottom, they should be planted 6″ deep.

When the flowers are finished the dead flower heads should be cut off before they turn to seed to prevent the plant being weakened for the next year. Leave the stems to turn brown and die off naturally, this will allow nourishment to be returned to the bulb for next year’s flowers.

Don’t trim the leaves off or tie them down. If you need to remove the bulbs to make way for other planting, carefully lift out the bulbs and replant them in a corner of your garden with wire netting beneath them. Lift and replant in autumn.

Daffodil bulbs should ideally be in before the end of October. Small varieties developed from wild daffodils (species) should be planted in holes 3″ deep, other varieties at 6″ deep.

Tulips can be planted from October until the end of November in holes about 4″ deep.

Snowdrops can be planted as bulbs before the end of September in holes 3-4″ deep, however, if possible, plant them immediately after flowering whilst still in leaf.

Crocuses should be planted before the end of September at about 2-3″ deep.

Planting bulbs indoors for Christmas flowering

As these are required for early flowering you will need to buy ‘prepared’ bulbs, these have been treated to speed up their development. 15th September is generally considered to be the best date for planting to ensure flowers for Christmas, but as nature is not an exact science, this, of course, cannot be guaranteed.

Put some potting compost or well soaked bulb fibre into a pot leaving enough space to allow the bulbs to be placed inside with the tips just below the rim of the container. They should be placed close together but not touching. Cover with compost or bulb fibre and water well. The container should then be placed in a cool spot such as a shed or bury it in a shady corner of the garden.

Contrary to some beliefs darkness is not essential, however, coolness is. Do not put in a black plastic sack as this encourages mould. After 10-12 weeks young, green shoots should appear (these will be paler if the pot has been kept in the dark). When the shoots have reached about 5cm (2″) in height bring the pot into a cool room and they should flower in time for Christmas. A lovely present for someone too.

Jane Lane Nurseries

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