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Planting Spring bulbs

Published: 21st September, 2016

spring bulbsDaffodils, tulips, Iris and other bulbs are beautiful additions to any garden and are the closest thing you can get to guaranteed colour. They’re easy to maintain and easy to plant. Plant them, water them and then in a few months’ time they’ll explode into life.

Here we tell you how.

The most popular spring bulbs are daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, grape hyacinths, allium and crocus.

When buying bulbs reject any that are spindly, mouldy, squishy or are already coming into growth. What you want is a bulb that is firm, with the skin intact and no current growth.

Make sure your chosen location has good drainage. If not, when digging over the ground in preparation, add plenty of compost to the soil.

At its most basic planting a bulb consists of digging a hole to the proper depth, placing the bulb in the hole pointy side up, then burying it. Work a high phosphorous plant food like fishbone into the soil at the bottom of the hole. A good rule of thumb when planting bulbs is to plant to 3X the bulbs height. Big bulbs like daffodils and tulips will need to be planted to a depth of 15 – 20 cm and smaller bulbs to a depth of 7 – 10cm. These depths are measure from the bottom of the bulb to the top of the soil. They can be positioned quite close together but make sure they are not touching as that can lead to rotting.

If you have relatively loose soil a bulb planter is a great tool to use. If you are planting large numbers or have hard or very compacted soil you may struggle with a bulb planter and will probably need to dig holes with a fork or spade.

For more scattered or naturalised planting start by digging a big hole or a trench. Take a handful of bulbs and drop them in the trench then turn them upright where they land so that the pointed end of the bulb is skywards. Gently recover with soil and if the weather is dry give them a little sprinkle of water.

One of the easiest way of growing bulbs is to grow them in pots. It’s exceptionally versatile allowing you to arrange them near the house on patios and decking or if you live in a flat you can even have them on your window ledge.

If you have squirrels in your garden who are likely to follow you in your tracks and dig up bulbs from the freshly back filled holes, a good trick is to use a piece of chicken wire and lay it over the bulbs just below the top level of the soil. Once the pesky creatures start digging and hit the obstacle they’ll quickly move on to easier foraging!

Many bulbs benefit from being divided every 3 – 5 years. If you’re getting a lot of foliage with few blooms or holes or overcrowding in your plantings, then it’s time to divide and replant your bulbs.

Spring flowering bulbs can be dug up any time between when the foliage turns brown and dies off at the end of spring or before the ground turns freezing in the autumn. Use a fork to dig the bulbs out rather than a spade which can cut the bulbs in half. Lay them out on a tray in a shaded area to dry out for a few days and then store in dry place before replanting in the autumn. Discard any that show any signs of disease or insect damage, only keep healthy bulbs that are firm and free from spots.

So what are you waiting for?

Plant spring bulbs now for an abundance of spring colour. Visit Henry Street Garden Centre for an inspirational selection as well as all the compost, food and tools you’ll need.

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