Spring bulb planting time has arrived again and that means a busy time.
You need to turn over the intended beds, clean up last season’s stored bulbs and plant them so that they may develop a good root system while the soil, air and water are still warm enough to induce growth, for once summer runs out, autumn, then winter, quickly follows.
Spring flowering bulbs will often make a poor showing if the winter is dry or if the following spring is dry.
When these bulbs are dug up for storing they will be considerably reduced in size compared with bulbs grown under favourable conditions.
Thus it may pay to apply a little irrigation if the seasons haven’t received sufficient rainfall.
This also suggests that the bulb beds should be made richer with old well-composted manure as well as a little balanced fertiliser to help build up the bulbs for the next spring.
In heavy soils a layer of mushroom compost at the bottom of the beds, except in the case of liliums which detest mushroom compost, covered with a few centimetres of soil has been found to be one of the best ways of growing bulbs.
Mushroom compost can also be used in sandy soils because it’s rich in humus and will benefit deep-rooting bulbs such as daffodils, jonquils, hyacinths, hippeastrums, snowflakes and others to build them up once they get their roots down into it.
Another successful method for growing bulbs in sandy loam soils is to give the bulbs a good dressing of equal parts of blood and bone meal and superphosphate in 24cm-deep trenches where they will be grown.
The mixture is put down after taking out about 24cm of soil at the rate of two kilograms to a trench seven metres long and about 40cm wide.
The base of the trench is then covered with 10cm of soil and the bulbs planted on top and covered over with more soil.
Grown under this method daffodils and hyacinths will produce tall stems with magnificent flowers.
These methods can also be used for planting bulbs in large containers or troughs.
Large pots 30cm and above should grow most spring flowering bulbs successfully.
Bulbs that have naturalised and have been left in the ground for several seasons benefit from a dressing of equal parts blood and bone and superphosphate in early autumn each year.
Amongst the easiest spring bulbs to grow are jonquils and daffodils as almost any situation suits them.
They naturalise well under trees and can be left in one place indefinitely.
Freesias with their striking colours and heavenly fragrance easily grow and will pop up and bloom year after year.
Ranunculus are great for spring colour as are babianas with flowers in rich shades of purple and blue and the non-fussy ixias make them a asset in any garden.
Bluebells are ideal in woodland gardens, pots, clumps or drifts.
Correction: In last week’s article on epiphyllums I said to grow them on a north-facing aspect but this should have been an east-facing aspect.
February 9: Westbury Garden Club Summer Show, Westbury Town Hall, Lyall Street, 1.30pm-4pm.
February 10: Annual Tasmanian Succulent and Cacti exhibition and sales, Deloraine Bowls Club, 11am-3pm.
February 13: Longford Garden Club, Christ Church Parish Hall, William Street, Longford at 7.30pm.
February 19: The Australian Plant Society, Max Fry Hall, Gorge Rd, Trevallyn at 7.30pm.
February 20: Launceston Horticultural Society, Windmill Hill Hall, High Street, Launceston, 8pm. Jane Tonkin will speak on rare bulbs and perennials. Visitors welcome.