Common Bulbs for Spring Flowering

Now is the time to plant your spring bulbs (if you have not already done so. Although the optimum time for doing this is September and October. I have found that most bulbs will in fact flower in the spring even if they are planted as late as December, although the flowering may be a bit late. You just have to wait until the ground is not frozen.

The range of spring flowering bulbs is increasing year on year with new varieties of old favourites being introduced. I have covered a bank in my garden with daffodil bulbs and I do not lift them after they have flowered. I do cut the flower heads off and leave the foliage until six weeks after flowering before I cut it back. (If you can tolerate it you can just leave them – not really recommended but they will eventually disappear). Anyway, the daffodils reliably flower year on year, increasing in number. The display is quite spectacular and, because I have more than one variety, it lasts a long time. Eventually, they will become over-crowded and will need digging up and replanting. You know this because they produce loads of leaves and very few flowers. Of course, if you want to, you can lift them every year when the foliage has died back and replant in the autumn.

Some bulbs like to be lifted after flowering (tulips come into this catagory). This is because they are vulnerable to rotting in wet soils and to slugs and other creatures eating them. Leave them until the foliage has died down before lifting, then store in cool, dry conditions until the next autumn.  Having said that, you can, if you wish leave them in the ground and risk losing some of them. It is nice though, when they suddenly flower with no input from you. Remember where they are, though, so you don’t put a fork or trowel through the bulbs.

The reason for cutting back dead flowers on bulbs (dead-heading) if so that the plant does not put energy into making seeds but puts its energy into making the bulb larger (and creating more bulbs). You should not cut back (or tie up )the leaves because they will return the goodness into the bulbs once they have finished flowering thus creating a better display next year.If you want to use the ground the bulbs are in or cannot bear to se them scruffy, then you can dig them up and ‘heel them in’ elsewhere. This means pplanting them shallowly so that they are easy to put in and dig up whan finished.

Some bulbs do not tolerate being taken out of the ground for any length of time (notable among these is the snowdrop). So you do need to know what conditions the bulbs require before buying. (Like most plants really!)

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