Who doesn’t absolutely adore spring bulbs? The many different flowers they produce are simply amazing and unique, not to mention the wonderful fragrance that often accompanies the blooms. Bulbs are something worth waiting for and we hope that many of you who have been considering growing spring bulbs yourselves will be willing to give it a go. There’s nothing quite like that first daffodil that appears in spring!
We have compiled a list of FAQs for you in the hope that you will join us in planting bulbs this season.
When should I plant my bulbs?
The planting of spring bulbs takes place in autumn and early winter. You can begin planting as soon as the end of February with some bulbs such as Ranunculus and Anemone. Other bulbs such as Tulips are better planted later in the season when the soil is cooler.
Early spring bulbs include: Crocus, early Tulips, early Daffodils and Anemone.
Mid spring bulbs include: Hyacinth, Daffodil, Freesia, Triumph Tulips and Ranunculus.
Late spring bulbs include: Gladioli, Dutch Iris, Bluebells and Fringed Tulips.
How do I store my bulbs before I am ready to plant them?
After digging your bulbs up, you can store your bulbs in a net or mesh bag, in a plastic bulb basket or loosely and unwrapped in a cool dry place. Try not to have the bulbs touching each other. The bulbs need good air flow wherever you choose to store them, that is very important.
In planting season if the specific bulbs you are planting require chilling in the fridge, opt to store them in paper bags away from fruits and vegetables.
Is it necessary to refrigerate bulbs before planting?
It is best to chill a range of bulbs in the refrigerator especially in the warmer regions where frosts are few. Bulbs such as Tulips, Hyacinth, Muscari, Daffodil and Crocus all benefit from having been pre-chilled. The act of chilling bulbs emulates a dormant winter stage that is close to the bulb’s natural climate. Don’t start chilling your bulbs until late March or April. If you pop them into the fridge too early, that can stunt the development of the buds. Keep the bulbs on the fridge door or somewhere they won’t get too cold. Keeping them at the back of the fridge may be too cold for them. Do not store fruit in the fridge at this time as ethylene can cause damage to the bulb, alternatively you can buy ethylene absorbing sachets which will help the bulbs not to be damaged by ethylene or by mould.
Chilling bulbs, even in cooler areas can often result in taller stems and earlier bloom times.
How deep do I plant my bulbs?
The depth at which to plant each bulb differs according to the size of the bulb. The general rule of thumb is to plant the bulb two times the size of the bulb’s diameter. Smaller bulbs such as Crocus and Anemone will be planted much closer to the surface then those of Tulips and Daffodils.
What does stagger planting mean and how do I do it?
Stagger planting is a way you can get a longer flowering time over the season. The idea is that you plant your bulbs in groupings two weeks apart for a period of 6-8 weeks. Once the first bulbs you planted have flowered and then begin to die, the next set will then start to flower so you will have a continual period of flowering. Choose bulbs that flower in early, mid and late spring to get flowers for the whole 3 months of spring.
I’m not very good at gardening are there some bulbs that are easier to look after than others?
Spring bulbs are amongst the easiest plants to grow. Lucky us! I would recommend planting Anemone’s, Daffodils, Ranunculus, Freesia, Dutch Iris and Tulips. Good Luck!
How do I know which way to plant my bulb?
Most bulbs have a tip, this is the end that goes up and not in the ground. The side you plant into the soil should be rounder and show signs of roots, this could just be that the bulb feels rougher to touch. With some bulbs it can be a bit harder to tell, in this case you can try planting the bulb on its side, the stem will find the way up to the light if it is planted this way.
Do bulbs need a special potting mix or fertilizer?
Use a good quality potting mix in pots and containers, you can even buy a specific bulb mix suitable for bulbs that will have the perfect blend of nutrients for your blooms. If planting in garden beds add in compost and organic matter such as sheep pellets. For your garden beds feeding your bulbs with a Bulb fertiliser can help you get the most out of them. Feed the plants when you first see stems appear, when they start to flower and once again when they begin to die down. The reason for feeding the bulbs when they begin to die down is to help with next seasons blooming as the bulb itself can store many of the nutrients for a healthy start. In containers use a more pot friendly fertilizer such as Tui Nova Tec Premium.
When the bulbs start to die down, it is advised not to remove the dying foliage. The nutrients from the decaying foliage can be stored within the bulb for next season.
I don’t have much space, can I plant bulbs in a container?
Bulbs can most definitely be planted in pots and containers, it is a great way to add colour around the home, perfect for renters and people limited on space as well as those that just like pots full of colour!
The choice in container is up to you but the most important consideration to make when choosing your pot is that it has good drainage. Most bulbs that sit in water will rot and die so having good drainage is essential.
Plant your bulbs just as you would plant them in the garden, get creative and splash out with a bit of colour.
If you plan on keeping your bulbs in containers for the next season, ensure the pot is kept in the shade or somewhere cool. This will help the bulbs bloom again next season. Bulbs kept in pots can get quite warm so ensuring this happens is the key to success.
I have bulbs from last year, can I use these?
Yes, if you have bulbs you didn’t end up planting last season, if they have been stored correctly, they should be able to be planted out. They will not last forever being out of the ground so get them in this season if you can. If the bulb still looks healthy and not dry or withered, then I would say plant it out!