September is the start of the bulb planting season, with the bulk of planting done in October. A little attention now can give the gardener much to look forward to and yield fantastic results in the garden next spring. We hope these simple siting and planting instructions will help. . As with plants throughout the season, match your bulb to your conditions.
NATURALISING IN GRASS
Crocus, tulip and dwarf narcissi work well as do well on average sites that do not get too waterlogged. Snakes head fritillary naturalised by a pool, lake or grassy bank provide elegant interest in otherwise difficult conditions. The turf beneath deciduous trees offers perfect conditions to bring colour and interest to the ground before leaves emerge and swallow the light. Try drifts of crocuses, anemone, snowdrop or scilla and wait for a carpet of colour to spread in the early light of the new year while trees continue to sleep.
Beneath trees you will need to plant carefully in the pockets between roots, adding a bit a bulb fibre or compost if the soil is bare or depleted. However in fields or swathes of turf you can lift entire sections with a turf cutter or spade to required depth, place bulbs and relay turf. For a natural effect throw a handful at a time and leave where they drop. Try to plant in a space where grass can be left uncut for a few weeks to allow bulbs to send nutrients back to base.
IN THE BORDER
Same principles as above if planting between existing plants and shrubs. Sometimes helpful in this circumstance to plant ‘in the green’ which means setting out when they are in full growth. Either shop buy for the first year as they arrive in garden centre in spring or plant up pots in autumn ready to plant out when in flower. This allows you to see the effect and judge colour matches as you would a perennial in a pot.
In new borders, make sure the ground is completely weed free and dig in well-rotted manure or compost to enrich. Add a little horticultural grit to assist with drainage.
IN POTS, BASKETS & CONTAINERS
Average bulbs will be happy in a mix of John Innes No. 2 with the addition of grit to allow free flow of moisture as you will need to water well. Bulbs, like plants in pots, are dependent on you. Feed during season with high potassium feed like tomato feed. Plant more densely in a pot for greater impact but rules on depth remain the same.
Water well, plant two or three times their own depth and around two widths apart, except in pots.
Try and plant the right way up: Daffodils pointy end up. Corms like crocus with little roots at base. Tubers such as Anemone have small, visible bud at top and Rhizomes such as Convallaria require a section with bud and roots present.