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GardenPost Autumn Bulb Planting Guide

Soils

Bulbs don't like wet feet! Do not plant in boggy ground! Add sand to poorly drained soils or plant in raised beds. Do not add fresh organic manure. Bulbs have a low nitrogen requirement, but do value phosphate & potash fertilizers. For good results in warm areas plant cold climate bulbs (daffodils, tulips, crocus, hyacinth) deeper and later in the season when soil temperatures have started to cool. Mulch to help conserve water and provide insulation from temperature fluctuations.

Chilling

Some bulbs like to be chilled in the fridge in paper bags for up to 6 weeks before planting - especially tulips. This provides close to a natural dormant climate and improves growth. Keep bulbs separate from vegetables as the ethylene gas produced by ripening fruit and vegetables can cause damage to the bulbs.

Plant Care

Bulbs are easy care, but do appreciate being weeded occasionally! At the end of the season leave the foliage on the plant until it dies down, as the plant develops next years bulb after it has flowered. Bulbs can be left in the ground from year to year, except for hyacinths and tulips, which should be dug annually. However digging and splitting your bulbs every third year does promote better flowering.

Bulb Storage

After digging your bulbs in late spring, place in net bag or store unwrapped in a cool dry place free from vermin ready for replanting in late summer and autumn.

Naturalising Bulbs

Naturalising means bulbs that are left in the ground from year to year to bloom multiply and die back with no digging or special care required. Simply plant and forget! Bulbs most suitable for this are Jonquils, Snowflakes, Smaller cup and trumpet Daffodils, Fressias, Belladonna, Muscari, Bluebells and Crocus. Suppress the grass by spraying with a very weak round up or other herbicide solution in winter before the bulbs start to appear. Scatter the bulbs by hand and plant where they land to create a natural look. Apply fertilizer during growing period; do not mow again until the foliage has died off. Fertilise after flowering to help feed the bulbs for next season.

Bulbs Failures

The main reasons for bulb failures are planting in wet ground or too deeply, this will cause them to rot and they won't grow. If you don't plan to plant your bulbs straight away, remove from paper bag and place in net bag or store unwrapped in a cool dry place free from vermin.

Bulbs for...

Pots
  • Crocus
  • Daffodils
  • Freesias
  • Hyacinths
  • Lachenalia
  • Tulips
  • Nerines
Naturalizing
  • Anemones
  • Bluebells
  • Crocus
  • Daffodils
  • Dutch Iris
  • Freesia
  • Lachenalia
  • Muscari
  • Leucojum
Sunny Spots
  • Amaryllis
  • Anemone
  • Daffodil
  • Dutch Iris
  • Freesias
  • Hyacinths
  • Tulips
Sunny Spots
  • Lachenalia
  • Muscari
  • Nerines
  • Ranunculus
  • Nerines
Shady Areas
  • Anemones
  • Hyacinths
  • Lachenalia
  • Tulips

Anemones & Ranunuclus

Chill Anemones for 6 weeks and Ranunculus for 4 weeks in a paper bag in the refrigerator away from fruit and vegetables. The ethylene gas produced by ripening fruit and vegetables can cause damage to the bulbs. After refrigeration soak the corms in tepid water to re-hydrate for approximately 6-8 hours. For optimum results they can be germinated in a cool position between sheets of wet newspaper or planted into seed trays claw/point down to get them started. Plant out at 3-4 cms deep in well drained sunny spot.

Tulips

Place bulbs in a paper bag (plastic bags cause sweating and rotting of bulbs) with an ethylene-absorbing sachet (Ethylene produced by ripening fruit and vegetables damages the developing flower bud). Chill in fridge and inspect every 14 days, towards the end of May you will notice swelling at the base of each bulb. They are now ready for planting! Plant 10-15cms deep in cool sunny well drained soil. Mulch to help keep soil temperature cool. Allow foliage to die back naturally this is when they draw the nourishment from the foliage and store it for next seasons growth. Lift and store for next season in cool airy location.

Freesias

Plant in warm sunny spot in well-drained soil point down at approx 5-8cm deep. Protect from frost. After flowering remove spent flower heads so that the bulb will fatten up for next year. Allow foliage to die off naturally then remove.

Crocus

Plant in free draining soil. Water in well once planted. If growing in pots plant 4-5cm deep and allow 10-15 bulbs for 15-20cm pots. Store in cool position until buds start to appear through the soil.

Daffodils

Plant in sunny well-drained site starting in late February through till the end of May when the soil temperatures are cooler. Plant at 10cms deep In well drained sunny site. Protect from slugs as leaves develop. As weather warms up protect from aphids with a general-purpose insecticide. Once flowering has finished sprinkle Diazinon on the soil around the base of the leaves to discourage the narcissus flies whose offspring will burrow down and feast on the inside out of the bulbs. Remove spent flower heads to stop seed development and lightly apply a general purpose or bulb fertiliser to encourage better bulb growth. Allow foliage to die back naturally this is when they draw the nourishment from the foliage and store it for next seasons growth. Daffodils can be left in the ground undisturbed for several years or dug up and stored in cool airy location.

Dutch Iris

Plant out in March/April at 8 – 10cms deep in free draining sunny site. Water to start with but do not over water, as this will encourage disease. Spray during growing season with appropriate fungicide and insecticide for optimum blooms. Pick when bud starts to colour up. Lift bulbs when foliage has died back and store in dry airy place ready for replanting next season.

Hyacinths –to promote better flowers store potted bulb in a dark place and keep moist until shoots are approximately 7 to 10cms high. Then bring them into the open to enjoy.

Nerines, Belladonnas

Plant immediately in very good free-draining soil in a hot, dry/sandy area. Plant with shoulders exposed and keep dry until bulb begins to sprout. Water lightly once bulb sprouts. In cooler areas plant in pots or in a sheltered position where frost won't harm the plants.

Best Bulbs for Cut Flowers

Anenomes and Ranunculus (pick while buds are still closed) Irises (pick when buds are halfway open) Tulips, Daffodils (display on their own as they will shorten the life of other flowers in mixed bunches)

Bulbs in Pots

Spring bulbs best suited to pots are hyacinths, bluebells (keep well watered), crocus (avoid waterlogged pots), daffodil (use plastic pots as doesn't dry out as quickly as clay), tulips, freesias and lachenalia. Plant in well-drained potting mix with the tips of the bulbs just below the surface. Keep the soil moist but not wet and keep the newly potted bulbs in the shade to avoid excessive temperature changes. When the first shoots emerge move into the light and increase watering. Remove bulbs from the pots after the foliage has died down.