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Post new topic   Reply to topic    Irish Gardeners Forum Home -> Bulbs in Irelands Gardens

Spring bulb planting success is up to you.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2008 12:16 am    Post subject: Spring bulb planting success is up to you. Reply with quote

Spring bulb planting success is up to you.
by GPI

"Plant spring bulbs now and you can be sure of colour in the New Year" is the call. It's almost unheard of for a healthy bulb not to flower the first season after planting.

Now, whether your bulbs continue to flower each and every following spring depends greatly on the soil conditions of their planting locations, and the way in which they are planted. Have a look at how you too can plant well just once, but reap many, many years of colour.

Encourage good soil conditions.
Almost all bulbs that you plant for spring flowering require a loose, open, porous, well-drained soil to prevent bulb rot. To reach this ideal bulb growing soil, you can take the step of amending it through the addition of soil improvers.

Start by working your soil over with a garden fork, digging in coarse sand or grit throughout the top twelve to eighteen inches of soil as you go. Do not remove any pre-existing small stones from the soil while you work it, these help water movement, providing drainage as well as warmth to the soil during winter. Along with sand/grit, the addition of organic matter such as homemade compost, peat moss or wood shavings when worked through your soil will aid bulb root development and improve drainage greatly on heavy clay soils.

Plant at the correct depth.
Beware planting your bulbs too shallowly as you may experience premature emerging shoots, these are ones which are easily burned by frost. Another downside is frost heaving, where the bulbs are pushed up out of soil by freezing temperatures, if you have ever seen bulbs on the soils surface in spring, well that's frost heaving brought on by planting too shallowly. Aside from frost, jackdaws, blackbirds and other round feeding birds can also damage shallow bulbs by rooting them out and pecking them.

Don't let your snowdrops and other spring bulbs suffer from frost heaving, plant them at the correct depth, photo / picture / image.

Planting too deep can be even worse, with bulbs possibly not emerging at all due too the long trip to the surface for their new shoots. Now, bulb packaging should have optimum planting depth instructions printed for you to follow, but occasionally you will come across bulbs without planting depth instructions. In this case you can usually get away with planting at a depth that is twice the bulbs height.

This planting depth is measured from the base of the bulb, resting on the soil in the hole to the existing topsoil level. Don't forget, daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, snowdrops etc must be planted with the root plate pointing downward and the pointy top or nose of the bulb pointing upward. This gets the flower growing in the right direction from day one, and prevents the shoot from having to take a wrong turning.

Ways of planting.
Well, if you have just dug over your bed with a garden fork, then it is possible to press each bulb down into the fluffy soil and then cover it with soil. This is a quick and easy way to go about your planting, but you must ensure the ideal bulb depth is used and that the bulbs are not damaged in the pressing process.

You may instead opt for a bulb planting tool. With it's graduations down the side, this shiny digging implement is a good aid to ensure correct planting depths. However when I was starting out, a trusty hand trowel and a length of stick cut to the desired planting depth were just as good, and one less tool to buy for a cash-strapped gardener.

No matter what you use when creating the individual planting holes, you should always loosen the soil below which the bulb will sit on, adding a shake of sharp sand to aid drainage. It will also benefit the initial root development of the bulb to mix a slow release fertiliser into the soil at the bulbs base, fertilisers such as "Bulb Booster", or "Super phosphate" are perfect for this purpose. Press the upright bulb down firmly onto this mix and cover with similarly fertiliser and sand amended soil.

If you follow the rules as to soil improvement and bulb planting depth, then you will be well on your way to flowers next spring, and the year after, and the year after that.

For bulb planting proper, see here......... Bulb Planting in Ireland

Any queries or comments on Spring bulb planting success is up to you, please post below.

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