Growing Bloomin' Fabulous Bulbs
Spring bulbs are easy to grow and come back year after year, brightening up the garden after a dreary winter. You can plant different types of bulbs together, combing colour and flower types, or one type grouped together for maximum impact.
Growing bulbs in the garden, pots, or containers
The saying “what you put in is what you get back” couldn’t be more true when it comes to preparing your soil for planting bulbs. Because many bulbs are left in the ground for several years when you first plant them it is important to choose the right site and prepare the soil well. The best spot has plenty of sun and soil that drains well (waterlogged soil can cause the bulbs to rot). Soil preparation involves removing any weeds and adding in plenty of fresh compost and mixing it in with existing soil to a depth of about 30-50cm.
The beauty of growing bulbs in containers means they are portable and once they begin blooming, you can move them to different areas of your deck or garden. Always use a good quality potting mix. Our Daltons Premium Bulb Mix has been specifically designed for bulbs and growing them in containers. Make sure your container has good drainage holes and has been cleaned before filling with your potting mix. Every 3-5 years you will need to refresh the soil in pots as the plants would have used up all of the nutrients. It’s a good opportunity to check the health of your bulbs and break up the bigger bulbs where needed and throw away any misshapen or old bulbs and replace with new ones.
Sourcing the best bulbs
There is a huge selection of bulbs available to grow. Choose fresh, healthy looking bulbs early in the season so you are getting the best of the bunch. Even if they are in a packet, try and get a good look at each of them. You want healthy, firm, well-sized bulbs, avoiding any that are soft, small, discoloured or shrivelled or showing signs of mould or rot.
Some people make the mistake of planting bulbs too deep or not deep enough. The depth you plant at depends on the type of bulb. Usually there is a guide on the bulb packet, but a safe and general rule is twice as deep as the length of the bulb, for instance a 10cm long bulb would be planted 20cm deep. Another common question is which end is up? Always plant bulbs with the pointy end or bud facing upwards. Make sure you plant bulbs approximately 10-15cm apart to give enough room for growth. After planting cover with soil and water well.
Top tip: If you are planting a large group of bulbs (or different types), dig holes and plant them all into position first you can so see what you have planted where before covering with soil.
Planting over bulbs with pops of colour
If you yearn for a bit of colour over winter, you can plant in between your bulbs with winter annuals like primulas or pansies. This is where the importance of clearly labelling your bulb planting area comes in. Knowing where your bulbs are means you can plant in close proximity to them without disturbing or digging them up. On the label, note the name of the bulb, how many you planted, and the date you planted them.
Winter annuals like primulas or pansies take minimal nutrients from the soil and their shallow root system means they will not impact the bulbs. Water the annuals enough so they don’t wilt but be careful not to over water as this could impact the dormant bulbs and cause them to rot. Around August/September remove your flowering annual plants to allow space for your bulbs to grow. When the bulbs green foliage starts to appear through the soil, feed them with a side dressing of Daltons Premium Bulb Fertiliser to promote healthy, vigorous blooms.
Problems with existing bulbs in your garden?
If you are having trouble with reduced flowering or none at all, read our Bulb Q&A’s for expert advice to get your bulbs blooming again.