Chris Bonnett is the owner of Gardening Express
Daffodils are perhaps the most widely grown plant in the UK, planted in millions of gardens and on the ground, which is great as they are wonderful for spring, but although you can buy ready potted examples of adults of those to plant now " in the green," they are best planted in the fall to early winter. They are found everywhere for good reason, that the bulbs are so easy to grow, but the varieties for spring sowing are often forgotten – but they really shouldn’t be.
Bulbs planted in the spring – and that’s a term I’ll use loosely to cover the sometimes confusing terminology of tubers, bulbs, rhizomes and whatever other technical names you may see around who often do this, but certainly shouldn’t put you off .
The old ways would have you do this in February and March and go to a lot of extra effort to pamper them, but I say no, don’t do it then, do it now!
The temptation is certainly there with retailers filling the shelves with promising packs at the start of the year, but if you plant early there is a huge risk of losing the bulbs to rotting in the cold damp soil, pest attacks by slugs and snails, and of course if they do start to emerge late frosts can wreak havoc on the tender young shoots of plants that just aren’t fully acclimated to your garden conditions yet. So, for me, it’s time, actually, until the end of May.
The best way is to look online and find varieties you like as they will be delivered fresh from specialist storage facilities of mail order companies, whereas stock in heated stores may dehydrate and exceed its better.
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So what types of spring planting bulbs are there to choose from? Since they are often overlooked compared to their planted cousins like autumnal tulips, we’ll start with one of the basics, and that’s gladiolus.
These offer the gardener an amazing range of tall flower colors and are great value spiers providing weeks of bright color in the summer, and even cutting stems for a vase, all with minimal effort.
They were considered by some to be a bit dated but try saying the supermarket florist service in mid-summer – modern hybrids have brought these blazing stars up to this day.
Properly planted, they will come back every year and reward you with plenty of color every season.
If you want flowering continuity, you can plant some of these every two weeks to extend your screens. If you’re Canny, keep a bag in the Veg drawer of the fridge (don’t eat them!) and they stay fresh, allowing you to plant as late as late June to enjoy blooms right into September.
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This is one of the tricks used by the cut flower trade to bring you flowering stems over a very long season.
How to plant them? Just dig a hole in the fertile soil around 10 to 15 centimeters deep and add a layer of bulbs end up before covering them again – it’s really simple.
If your soil does not drain well and tends to get waterlogged at times, add some sand or sharp gravel to the bottom of the hole for drainage aid so they never sit in water and you can’t go wrong.
Now just back off and water if it’s dry, and a handful of granular plant food on the area will give them a boost too.
Expect that they emerge in as little as fifteen days with warm weather and wet soil and be prepared with a few bamboo stakes or wire frames iron support rods dramatically if you are in a place windy or exposed as they erupt by arrow. for heaven.
On a balcony or patio? Then just repeat the process above with a nice heavy planter and some quality compost, try to pick a quality mix that drains well, but has season long feeding (well worth the extra and a job less to do the feeding during the summer with potions from the garden center) to really boost flower power.
A basic multi-purpose probably won’t cut, unless it has that extra nourishment added, but a shrub, tree and compost rose or tub and basket should do well.
All Gladioli are striking on their own, grown as one variety for a punchy display, but try one of the mixed packs sold by all good shops to have a veritable riot of color on your hands – in fact, you’ll often see gladioli blooming at the time of carnival season, with probably as many colors of one of these valuable bags.
If you’re more stylish, be more selective and use a few carefully chosen different varieties and you can create a real trend statement – mixing different colors in bulb varieties is really gaining popularity in recent years.
Try a dark burgundy-black shade with pure white, and you’ve got a monochromatic wonder – each color helping to show off the other. Use vibrant shades of pink and orange together, and it’s tropical fruit punch all the way.
If calming simplicity is what you are after, then simply opt for pure white and combine it with some fresh green plants as a backdrop in your own garden. There’s a variety of gladioli hors d’oeuvres out there to suit every taste and every garden.