Garden Advice

How to Choose & Grow Spring Flowering Bulbs

New season’s bulbs come into the garden centres from mid August. The earlier you buy them the fresher they are and there will be a greater selection to choose from. There are bulbs for all situations, from naturalising in grass to borders, pots and window boxes and even for indoors. From the first Snowdrops to the last Tulips and Anenomes, they will flower for almost five months, at least into May. Bulbs make a particularly good combination with winter pansies, wallflowers and forget-me-nots.

Make sure that you plant the bulbs deep enough (the packet will indicate the planting depth). If not the result will be adequate in the first year but may be disappointing thereafter. This is a particular issue with tulips which require a planting depth of about 15 cms.

Daffodils
A spring essential that should not be overlooked. They are easy to grow, reliable and make a splendid sight. An informal mixed display of daffodils looks particularly good naturalised in a verge or woodland setting.

Miniature Narcissi
Dainty flowers are also very appealing. Tete a Tete (20 cms yellow) is probably the best known but there are many others to choose from.

Fritillaria
These have been popular for some years and rightly so. It has a crown of flowers borne on tall stems. The flowers literally ooze with nectar and make a splendid sight in the border.

Crocus
For something unusual choose Crocus sativus. At first glance it looks like another purple crocus with a quite open splay of petals but when you look more closely you will spot pollen laden anthers and the most wonderful orange style and stigma (female part of the flower that collects the pollen) that seem to fall out of the crocus flower like a ribbon.

Alliums
From the dwarf to the giant they are elegant, structural and very ‘now’. They are easy to grow, the flowers last for ages and afterwards the seed heads are also very attractive. A sophisticated choice for any garden.

TOP TIPS –

  • When growing bulbs in pots, tubs or window boxes choose a container at least 30cm deep and plant the bulbs deeper than you would in the garden. Always make sure the container has drainage holes or the bulbs will get water logged. Daffodils can be grown in containers for many years. Tulips and Hyacinths are generally only good in a container the first year and should then be planted out in the garden.
  • If you want to keep Daffodils in the container for the following year it is important to feed the bulb while the foliage is still green as it will have used much of its food store.
  • When buying bulbs look for a note on the packet which says they are grown from cultivated stock.



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