The Right Terrain
Bulbs are not demanding when it comes to soil. They can be planted in all types of soil, except those that are too wet. It is important that they breathe, so you need to work the soil carefully before planting them, and if the soil is heavy, rich in clay, you need to improve the surface layer by mixing peat or compost.
Feeding the Flowers
Usually they do not need fertilizers, they have their own reserve of food that allows them to grow. However, if they are left in the soil all winter, as perennial plants, they could suffer hunger. Therefore, every autumn, enrich the soil with a slow-acting fertilizer (the so-called 9-9-6 fertilizer is the one that best suits us). This extra nutrient will keep them strong during the winter.
A Matter Of Time
As long as the soil is not frozen and can be easily tilled, they can be planted at any time from September to December. Some varieties require different moments, but a symbol on each package will help you to understand the best time to ground.
Position Of The Bulbs
It does not matter whether the position in which the bulbs are planted is totally in the sun, in the shade or in the middle. It’s OK to plant them in a flowerbed, on a terrace, against a fence or even under a tree. The more delicate ones, however, it is better to plant them in a more shady area. Also for this reason the symbols on the package will help you.
Here is an easy rule of thumb to understand how deep to plant them: twice their height. So the taller bulbs (tulips, hyacinths, daffodils and trombones) like to have the base (the flat part) about 10-15 cm below the surface, while the lower ones (anemones, scille, muscari and snowdrops) prefer to be 5-10 cm deep.
Bulbs: How To Plant Them
Before planting the bulbs, check on the packaging how far apart they should be planted from each other. Then dig a hole, with a dustpan or a bulb plant, and place them on the bottom, with the tip pointing upwards. Cover them with earth and press them gently.
If you want to plant several bulbs at the same time, remove a layer of earth from the entire surface, press the bulbs into place at the right distance and cover them with the removed earth.
Watering the Bulbs
Once planted, you have to water a little. So if it doesn’t rain, you have to give them a drink because their roots grow faster in damp soil.
Protect the Bulbs in Winter
If they have been planted just before the beginning of winter, it will be important to protect them with a layer of maximum 10 cm of leaves, peat or straw. This way they will not freeze to death. On the contrary, they are not afraid of snow because they stay warm under it.
The bulbs perform better, speaking of blooming, if planted in groups, taking into account the colors and the flowering periods. For instance, plant the short-stemmed crocuses with late tulips, or the snowdrops with early tulips, or the narcissi with Darwin’s hybrid tulips and garlic. You will thus create a beautiful composition.
Bulbs: Team Game With The Annual Species
The bulbs, if planted next to other annual flowers, once they are grazed, will give way to the annual species. Some of these species (e.g. don’t forget me) can be planted at the same time, while others can simply be added later.
The bulbs also look good when planted in the midst of the covering species. They get along well because the roots of the bulbs are longer than theirs, so they do not compete for food.
After the bulbs have bloomed, the covering species expand to cover the ground left free by the bulbs.
Create A Natural Look
If you love a natural-looking garden, bulbs are your ideal partner. Many spring bulbs come to “naturalise” your garden. Plant them along an avenue, around a tree, under a shrub and around rocks. They look even more natural if they are planted in groups and we recommend that you mark their position with the appropriate labels (included in the package).
If you have planted them along an avenue, remember not to cut the grass before two thirds of their leaves and flowers have dried.
Cassettes, Vases And Balconies
The short stem bulbs are ideal to be planted in boxes and pots on balconies. Plant them a little closer to each other than when you would make a garden. You can also plant them in “layers”, with the bulbs blooming closer to the surface and the later ones deeper down. Don’t give them too much water until they have sprouted, otherwise their roots will rot. Once they have sprouted, however, you need to water them regularly because the boxes and pots dry out quickly.
In case of frost they should be moved inside, to a sheltered place until the cold has passed.
Winter Flowers – Indoors
Many spring bulbs can be forced to bloom in winter if kept indoors. In fact, some of them (amaryllis, prepared hyacinths and “paper white” daffodils, for example) have been specially grown to give color and fragrance to your home in the winter months. Check which bulbs are suitable for growing indoors.
Bulbs: Protect Them From The Cold
Some bulbs (hyacinths, tulips, daffodils and crocuses) need to stay cold for a certain period of time before they can bloom. Then, after having planted them, place them in a cool place (5-10°C) for 12-18 weeks, or until they will have sprouted 2-3 cm. Do not give too much water.
When you move them in the house, cover them with a newspaper for one day, to avoid drying them during the first day in the heat.
Bulbs do not like excessive cold, especially if they have just begun to sprout. A short frost does not usually cause permanent damage, but sprouted bulbs of Iris hollandica or Freesia can be severely damaged by long periods of snow and excessive cold, with temperatures of -10°C or lower. So if they started to sprout in December or January and you expect frost or a period of intense cold, it is advisable to cover them with a blanket of soil, leaves, peat or straw.
Flowering Period Of The Bulbs
The time of flowering depends on when you planted them and the climate. It varies from species to species. If the weather is warm enough in January, the daffodils can start to bloom towards the end of the month, early February.