One of the great advantages of planting gardens for clients at this time of year is that I can include bulbs in the planting plan.
It’s the perfect time to plant spring and early summer bulbs, here are my tips for a lovely display next year.
Ideally, it’s best to plant them before November:
- daffodils, the small tete a tete variety is a favourite
- iris reticulata are very pretty and flower nice and early in February, just when you think winter will never end
- hyacinths, super scented, plant plenty of these to cut and bring indoors
- alliums before the end of November
Most bulbs like a sunny place with well-drained soil, but there are ways round this if you have clay soil in your garden or lots of shade.
Planting in the garden:
As a rule, plant bulbs twice their depth with a gap three times the width of the bulb, adding plenty of grit for drainage to the base of the planting hole if your soil is clay, if you’re new to this make sure that the pointed end of the bulb faces upwards. Gently firm the soil back in place to get rid of air-pockets and water them.
Planting in pots:
This is a perfect way of having bulbs in your garden, even if it doesn’t get much sun, because you can move the pots into a sunny position. Planting in pots also gets round the problem of heavy soil, because you can choose the right soil for planting. I use a mixture of John Innes No 2 and multi-purpose compost. There are special bulb composts, but I always have J.I. and M.P.C. so it makes everything easier.
Plant the bulbs at the same depth as you would in the garden, you’ll need at least 5 cm of soil underneath the bulb to allow plenty of room for the roots to develop.
Cut off the stems after flowering, but don’t be tempted to cut back the leaves, even though they may look untidy. The leaves need time to photosynthesise, this feeds up the bulbs ready for flowering the following year.
The solution to this is to choose a planting place where the leaves won’t easily be seen as they die back and turn yellow, such as behind low evergreen shrubs.
Spread a layer of mulch, such as garden compost , mushroom compost or well-rotted manure in autumn over the soil where the bulbs are. They’ll flower year after year, such rewards for such a small effort and an opportunity to garden sustainably.
Not only will the plants look lovely in spring and early summer, the bees will be happy too, can you spot some in the photos above?
Hover your mouse over the photos to see the names of the plants?
alll photos; Jill Anderson