Bulb planting is the ultimate in companion planting. Bulbs are ideal for planting around shrubs to give interest and colour when the shrub is out of season. Bulbs are just what you want to cover the bare ground before your perennials take over the display. Bulbs are equally good growing naturally in grass, or potted up at your front door.
Bulb planting usually takes place in the autumn, just as the weather is changing, to give you a glorious display, and cheer you up in early spring. If you do your bulb planting, before all your plants have died off for the winter, you will be able to plant the bulbs without risking disturbing the plants already planted. If you leave the bulb planting until later in the year, when other garden plants are dormant you risk uprooting them unnecessarily.
The general rules when bulb planting are to bury the bulbs about 2.5 times their own depth into the soil, and stand them pointed end up. With daffodils it is better to plant deeper rather than too shallow, as they will not flower well if too shallow. Tulips are the opposite, and will flower quite happily if planted just below the surface, it also make the bulbs easier to lift later. If in doubt plant bulbs deeper rather than too shallow, plants can be very adaptable, and are tougher than you think.
Bulb planting can be made easier by using a bulb planter, which removes a plug of soil which you then just deposit on top of you bulb. Another tool you can use is a dibber, which can be acceptable in soft soils, but will compact the soil restricting the roots if used in clay soils.
Most bulbs need good drainage, so when you are doing your bulb planting have a bucket of grit handy, make your hole deeper than the bulb requires, put a handful of grit in the whole before the bulb is put in, then cover with soil. The bulbs that do like it damp are snowdrops and fritillary.
Bulb planting to create a natural look, in a lawn, is easily done, by taking a handful of bulbs and just throwing them. Your bulb planting task is then to just dig them in where they fall.
Some bulbs are venerable to rodents, when first planted and need protection. The easiest method is to use small chicken wire when you are bulb planting. If your bulbs are plated in pots rest the wire on top until the bulbs are sprouting. If you are putting a display in your boarder you can dig out your area, set your bulbs in, cover with a little soil, then the wire and then more soil on top. This also prevents you from digging up your bulbs accidentally when they are dormant.
Enjoy your bulb planting, and the following display.
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