Spring bulbs are some of the easiest flowers to grow. The bulbs come pre-programmed to produce a particular type of flower and, most importantly, come complete with their own stored food supply. This helps them to get through their dormant period and be ready to flower as early as possible in the new season. Bulb performance is very much affected by what happened to the bulb in the previous year.
Most bulb varieties should be planted points up. There are two exceptions: ranunculus, with its claw-like cluster of corms, goes in claws down. Anemones are planted points down. If you can’t tell which way they should go, play it safe and put the bulbs in sideways.
If you live in a coastal area with a moderate climate, bulbs like tulips, hyacinths, crocus and most daffodils should be grown as annuals and thrown away after they’ve finished flowering. If you are really keen you can lift and store them before refrigerating them for a few weeks in the new year. Bulb varieties that, in most cases, can be left in the garden to come up year after year include bluebells, grape hyacinths, sparaxis, freesias, jonquils and snowflakes. Of course, if you’re in an area with cold winters, bulbs will be right at home and will flourish in the garden.
Prepare the soil before planting by digging in some old, well-rotted manure or compost. Dynamic Lifter organic pellets are also good. At planting time, mix some Thrive All Purpose granular plant food into the soil. The other important time to fertilise is after the flowers have finished. If you’re planning to keep the bulbs in the same spot for next year, water over the leaves with a Thrive solution every week until they die down.
Growing in Pots
Bulbs do well in pots. They can even be layered (ie stacked on top of each other) to create a massed effect. This means putting the larger bulbs further down in the mix near the base of the pot, and the smaller ones higher up. Use Thrive Bulb Potting Mix, which is formulated with the extra drainage that bulbs need, and feed with Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food or Nutricote controlled release pellets.
Hyacinths that have been exposed to high temperatures and lots of light early in their growing period are likely to bloom either on very short stems or on weak stems that flop over. Potted hyacinths are the most vulnerable. It can be helpful to cover the pots until the plants are a few centimetres tall and then gradually expose them to more light and warmth. Some people even put potted hyacinths into a dark cupboard for the first few weeks until after the shoot has emerged.
Bulbs that do well in warmer climates are babianas, freesias, gladioli, ixias, sparaxis, jonquils, snowflakes and ornithogalums.
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