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The Beginners Guide To Preparing Your Winter Bulb Gardens!

The Beginners Guide To Preparing Your Winter Bulb Gardens!

Thankfully, there’s no alchemy or rocket science involved in making your soil hospitable for bulbs. All you need are a couple of good tips, the right food for them and most importantly water.

Bulbs are pretty easy to grow, as they’re an all-in-one underground powerhouse with storerooms for nutrients and water. And as they come with their own food, they are generally able to survive most unfavourable conditions.

Where do I start? 

Firstly, look at your garden to make sure the areas you’re wanting to hide your little treasures get enough sun - especially in winter-rainfall areas. You should make sure that your soil is the right texture and that it will provide the bulbs with the best care. To do this, grab a handful of the soil from your garden and look at the different textures.

Hands holding soil

What to plant

Our easy-to-plant spring-flowering bulbs can be planted almost anywhere in well-drained soil, from areas with full sun to partial shade. (Leucojum, Freesia and Hyacinth are happy in shadier positions.) Consider how tall they grow, to help with planning where you’re going to put them. (Shorties in the front, lanky legs further back.) Don’t skimp on planting – groups of flowers definitely look better than one or two here and there. Create wild swathes of 15- 25 plants that will give great visual impact.

When to plant

Then, once you’ve ordered, start getting the soil ready for when they arrive home and you need to put them to bed, as ideally, they’ll need to be planted pretty much as soon as you get them in autumn, around the second week of May.

Make sure a week ahead of planting time that your soil is nicely loosened to the proper depth and you’ve added some fertiliser which will have time to dissolve. Drainage is critical. Bulbs need well-draining, porous, loose soil, so if your soil is a tad dense, ensure you prepare it well ahead of time with organic material such as compost, which has been worked down at least 30cm. This will ensure that new root systems from your bulbs have a chance to thrive. And that your bulbs won’t rot. 

Using Containers

If you’re planting in containers (find ours here), they should be at least 45cm across, and deep enough to accommodate your bulbs. Make sure there are adequate drainage holes at the bottom of your container. Use fresh potting soil (check out our potting soil here), not soil from the garden, and add water-retaining mulch (not sure what mulch is? read about it here) on top of the soil to slow down water loss when the months are dry. If you live in a particularly cold or frosty region, remember that bulbs planted in containers can freeze more easily than those out in the ground, so put them in a sunny, yet sheltered spot, or cover them when frost or low temperatures are forecast. Do plant the bulbs a little closer together in a container than you would in the ground for maximum impact. One benefit to growing in pots is that you can bring them into view when the bulbs are blooming, and then move them out of the way once the flowers have died down, the foliage is wilting, and the plant is going dormant. 

I’ve got my bulbs now what?

Once you have the bulbs to hand, dig out the prepared soil to the proper planting depth as specified on the pack. (If you threw the pack instructions away into your recycling by accident, rule of thumb is to plant the bulb about one to two times as deep as the actual height of the bulb, just never too deeply.) Then loosen the soil below slightly, before adding your Hadeco Bulb Food and bulbs. Cover lightly with the soil you’ve dug up, making sure you don’t press the bulbs into the soil to avoid compactions, and put a layer of mulch on top. We’d suggest you also count this as part of your overall planting depth.

Now for the most important step that is often overlooked, watering! One should water bulbs two or three times a week. Unfortunately, it cannot only be for a few minutes as you need the water to seep deep into the soil to get to where the roots of the bulbs are. So, it’s best to water bulbs for at least twenty minutes every 3 days to get the best results. If you miss even one deep watering, the bulb could abort the flower embryos and you will get no beautiful blooms in the season. 

If you want to save water while gardening to be more environmentally friendly, the best way to do it is by using mulch. This helps with water retention which will keep your soil damper for longer but you will still need to water 3 times a week.

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