A guide to growing bulbs: Plant your winter garden

The garden, our little slice of heaven. Do you delight in the beauty of delicate petals opening to the skies? Colourful blossoms dancing in the breeze, sweet floral fragrances filling the air and the peaceful twittering of birds in the trees. There’s no better place to pass the time. Do you want to grow bulbs for a beautiful garden all year round? Green thumb or not, there’s no reason we all shouldn’t experience the joy of our flower beds in full bloom. Flower bulbs are the perfect embellishment for a glorious garden. If you plant at the right time and follow the instructions, your bulbs are sure to grow and blossom.

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How to grow bulbs

Bulbs are usually bigger and different in structure to seeds. Considered a modified root, the structure carries the complete life cycle of the plant within. They all have a base plate from where the roots emerge and a top growth point for the flower. Inside, the bulb consists of layers with the flower bud in the centre which emerges as the plant grows.

Growing bulbs is a rewarding process. While bulbs do have periods of dormancy, their flowering time is a wonder to behold. Bright yellows, dazzling whites, soothing lilacs – the colours are spectacular. Planting times are seasonal and vary depending on when your bulbs are due to flower. Winter and spring blooming bulbs are better suited to cooler temperatures and need the winter period for growth. Autumn is the perfect time to plant your winter bulbs. While some bulbs may flower in winter, many winter bulbs come alive in the spring. Hyacinths, daffodils, irises, freesias and tulips are just a few of your options.

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Preparing to grow bulbs

All Hadeco’s bulbs come packaged with planting instructions. When to plant, flowering time and lighting requirements are all found on the packet, as well as instructions for actual planting. Always consult the packaging if you are uncertain, but there are some general rules to follow when growing bulbs. Whether you’re planting in containers or the garden, if you follow the planting instructions and give your bulbs plenty of water, you’re already on the path to success.

Growing bulbs in pots

Let’s start with container planting. Some bulbs are more suitable for pots than others, hyacinths, in particular, grow well in pots. (Read our article on hyacinths to discover more). Place potting soil into your container, leaving space at the top to place your bulbs. Position them with the base on the potting mix, pointed end upwards. The packet details the distance bulbs must be placed from each other. Be careful not to overcrowd your container. Planting them too close together will affect their growth. Once placed in the container, cover the bulbs with the rest of the soil (the packet will tell you how deep they need to be). Bulbs generally prefer well-draining soil, be sure to select a container with adequate drainage. Place your pot in an area suitable for the plant’s light requirements and water well every four days, making sure the water drains out the bottom. Nourish your growing bulbs with Hadeco Bulb Food.

Growing bulbs in the garden

Bulbs look beautiful when planted in your flowerbeds. Before planting, prepare your bed by adding compost and bone meal and digging it into the soil. Freesias are lovely bulbs for the garden and are native to South Africa, making them well-suited to the climate. (Discover more about freesias). When growing bulbs outdoors, follow the packet’s planting instructions to determine depth and spacing. Although your flower beds provide more space than a container, you still need to leave enough room for the roots to develop. Use a planter tray (available from Hadeco’s online store) to protect the bulbs from pests and moles. Position the tray in the ground, placing some soil over the bottom, and then plant your bulbs inside the tray. Cover with soil. Apply Hadeco Bulb Food immediately after planting (and then monthly). Sprinkle the bulb food over the soil and water in. Don’t forget to water your growing bulbs every four days.

Over-sowing

Whether you’re planting in pots, window boxes or the ground, you can over-sow or over-plant your bulbs with other seeds, such as pansies, violas or Alyssum. These flowers will provide colour while your bulbs are growing and also act as a mulch. Adding mulch to your flower beds helps retain moisture in the soil and protect the bulbs roots, and makes your beds look attractive. Bark chips, fallen leaves, and pebbles are all great options when adding mulch.

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What to do after your bulbs have flowered

Surely there can be nothing more pleasing than a sea of daffodils dancing in the breeze as spring awakens. Your flowering bulbs will brighten up your garden and home with delightful fragrances and an abundance of colour. As the flowering period comes to an end, you may be tempted to trim back the plants – don’t do this. After the flowering has finished, allow the green growth to die off naturally, ensuring all the energy goes back into the bulb. Doing this will help your bulb flower again the following year.

Clusters of vibrant, flowering bulbs are an asset to any garden. Don’t be daunted by the prospect of growing bulbs. As long as you keep them nourished and watered, and plant according to the instructions, there is no reason your bulbs shouldn’t bloom in all their glory. Visit Hadeco’s online store and stock up on winter bulbs. Your spring garden will be a haven you never want to leave.