Grow Spring Flowering Bulbs

17th April 2018

Spring-flowering bulbs are the easiest plants to grow – they come perfectly packaged with their own food supply and all they ask for is a good feeding of water, well-draining soil and a sunny spot in your garden plot.  Autumn is the perfect time to plant them: cool nights, lower soil temperatures and shorter days are the ideal conditions for growing spring-flowering bulbs.
      What to plant in Autumn  
            • Exotic: anemones, ranunculus, hyacinths, tulips
            • Indigenous: freesias, tritonias, ixias, sparaxis, babianas, Cape cowslip, chincherinchee, daffodils, lilies
      Where to plant
            • Choose a sunny spot. Bulbs need plenty of sunlight during autumn and winter to ensure healthy growth.
            • They are versatile and suit various garden designs. Arrange in solid blocks of colour, in a rock garden or in containers to add colour and character to dull spaces.
      How to plant
            • Plant at the correct depth – too deep will cause them not to come up; too shallow won’t allow for the development of a strong root system to support the plant. Aim for a depth that is twice the height of the bulb.
            • Plant the bulbs three times the width apart.
            • Always plant with the point facing up. In the case of ranunculus, however, plant the claw-like bulb facing downwards.
            • Check the bulb pack for more specific planting instructions suited to each type.
      Soil requirements
            • Loosen the soil beforehand to a depth of about 20cm and add well-composted manure, leaf mould or compost.
            • Very sandy soil can be improved by digging in organic matter such as compost as well as water-retaining polymers.
            • Clay soil will benefit from the addition of coarse sand and lots of organic matter such as compost to improve drainage and texture.
            • Bulbs need a constant supply of water from planting time – this is a big factor in ensuring their success.
            • Water thoroughly after planting and thereafter twice a week until the bulbs go dormant in early summer.
            • Mulch with bark chips or compost to keep the soil cool.
            • Use a handful of 2:3:2 fertilizer per m2 about two weeks after planting to encourage growth.
            • Once the first shoots start appearing, feed with bulb food once every two weeks.
      Expert tips
            • Indigenous bulbs do well in sandy soil whereas exotics need plenty of compost dug in.
            • Plant in a group of 12–15 bulbs in about a half square metre area instead of spreading out in a straight line.
            • For a natural effect in your garden, toss the bulbs in the air over a patch of soil and plant them wherever they fall.
            • Cut back flower stalks to ground level after the bulbs have finished flowering, but let the foliage die back naturally. Don’t cut the foliage back while still green as the plant uses this time to photosynthesise and make food reserves to produce its next set of flowers.
            • If you want to move your bulbs, the best time to do this is during their dormant period in early summer.