Planting bulbs and hiding bulbs

Posted: Friday 31 October 2014
by Kate Bradbury

I spent a lovely afternoon in the autumn sunshine on Monday, planting bulbs. They were planted in pots and troughs, on windowsills, steps and next to doors.

Narcissus 'Minnow'

I spent a lovely afternoon in the autumn sunshine on Monday, planting bulbs. I planted lots of the wonderfully scented (and my favourite) narcissus, ‘Minnow’, a dwarf variety which bears clusters of flowers with buttermilk petals and an egg-yolk-yellow centre. There were some other daffs – a jonquil type and dwarf double a friend gave me from her Big Box of Bulbs Going Spare.

I also planted an assortment of tulips, including ‘Queen of Night’ and ‘Purissima’, and a big bag of purple crocus for the bees. I have two more bags of tulips and a sack of alliums (more bee fodder) left to plant. I may have got carried away with bulb planting this year.

All of the bulbs were planted in pots and troughs, which were arranged on windowsills, steps and next to doors, so they can look miserable for the next four months and then fill everyone with spring cheer for a few weeks next year.

I love bulbs in autumn. They’re all shiny and new and firm, and planting them is a bit like burying treasure. And I love them in spring when they pop up (and cheer everyone). But when they’re dying down but haven’t quite done so yet and you don’t want to remove the leaves lest they won’t have sufficient energy to flower again the following year? Hate them.

Fellow Gardeners’ World blogger Adam Pasco grows his bulbs in large aquatic baskets, which he plants in a hole he digs in his border and simply replaces when the display goes over. I like this idea but you need a lot of space – I imagine somewhere in the depths of Adam’s beautiful garden is a really messy corner full of baskets of bulbs with leaves in various states of decay. Perhaps he has a clever way of storing them.

If I were more organised I’d think about planting combinations and grow the bulbs among ornamental grasses and large-leaved plants such as hostas and cranesbill geraniums. The University of Cornell list of the best planting combinations for spring bulbs is useful, for organised people who plant bulbs in the border and don’t want the foliage looking messy after the plants have flowered.

Sadly I’m not more organised and besides, I planted my bulbs in pots, where they can look miserable for the next four months and then fill everyone with spring cheer for a few weeks next year. But, boy, after my autumn of planting there will there be a lot of spring cheer in 2015. And a lot of misery when they all start to die down in summer.

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Talkback: Planting bulbs and hiding bulbs
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baza 09/11/2014 at 21:22

Hello there i've planted daffodils and tulips recently but was wondering how you produce your own bulbs this may seem like a daft question but i'm new to gardening



fidgetbones 09/11/2014 at 22:14

Most bulbs will produce seed after they flower. You sow the seed and grow on. It may take one to three years before they flower depending on the variety. They will not be identical to the parents usually.

If you want all the bulbs to be identical to the parent, bulbs increase slowly year on year. There are other methods such as scaling for lilies, slicing bulbs into quarters for daffs and other methods of micropropagation that the pros use.

baza 09/11/2014 at 22:53

Thanks fidgetbone. so are you saying that in a couple of years time the daffs that i've planted will rapidly multiply and i may have to dig the bulbs up and seperate them or do you only get a few that will grow on to flower.

pansyface 09/11/2014 at 23:10

It depends on the variety really. Some are more willing to multiply than others but they all create mini bulbs that will develop into new plants.

I have Tête a tête narcissi that just grow and grow. I started out with a few pots in the house for decoration and the lawn is now full of them

baza 09/11/2014 at 23:18

Thanks pansyface i think these next few years will be interesting to see what happens

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