Planting bulbs requires some careful planning. Spring-flowering bulbs are a fantastic way to brighten up the garden after the cold winter. Here are some popular questions and answers that I get asked about them, to help you when planting.
1. When shall I plant them?
Autumn is the perfect time to plant your spring-flowering bulbs, as long as it’s before the first frost. I’d recommend around mid October. Summer flowering bulbs need to be planted in spring, after the frosts.
2. How do I plant them?
Loosen the soil and dig a hole with a trowel. The hole needs to be around three times as deep as the depth of the bulb. Place it in the hole by pushing and twisting bulb downwards (make sure it’s the right way up!) and then fill the hole with previously removed soil. Add some bulb fibre or fresh compost to create some fertile soil for the roots.
3. How do I know which way to plant them?
Flower bulbs should have a pointy tip, this pointy bit needs to face upwards. If it’s not obvious which way to plant, then plant it sideways as the stems will find their way to the surface.
4. How far apart should they be planted?
Plant bulbs three times the diameter apart, and three times the height deep. For example, a 5cm in diameter bulb should be planted 15cm away from the next one.
5. How should I water?
Spring-flowering bulbs need to be watered immediately after planting with a watering can so the roots grow effectively. If you’re planting in pots, they will need to be watered more frequently for a few months after planting so the soil doesn’t dry out. Summer-flowering bulbs need a lot more water.
6. Will they flower again?
Spring-flowering bulbs are available in three separate groups: annuals, perennials and naturalising. Annual bulbs will produce flowers for a few years, but eventually will die out. Perennials will emerge every year, while naturalising bulbs will also do this, but increase in number too.
7. How do I keep squirrels away from them?
Grate some soap into the hole with the bulbs. This won’t effect the bulbs and keep squirrels from digging them out!
8. Should I feed my them?
Feed bulbs every seven-ten days with a fertiliser that is high in potassium. This helps promote good flowering for next year. Start feeding as soon as the shoots appear, and then stop once the foliage dies down at the end of the season.
Check out my 8 favourite spring-flowering bulbs, how to plant them in containers, and summer-flowering bulbs tips.
David Domoney is a Chartered Horticulturalist, Broadcaster, and Author. David has worked with a number of the UK’s leading garden retailers as a plant buyer and strategic consultant. With more than 30 years experience, in horticulture, David is as passionate about plants now as he was when he bought his first plant at a village fete.
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