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Flower Bulbs

Flower Bulbs

Buying flower bulbs is always worthwhile because any of these types of blooms enrich every garden and every balcony. Whether classic tulips, daffodils, extravagant ornamental alliums, majestic crown imperials or the small crocuses, Scilla and snowdrops – there are ideal bulbs for every location and every style of garden. They all have one thing in common: they are the underground storage organs of so-called geophytes, which retreat deep into the ground after flowering, where they take a long rest. In the spring, however, these bulb flowers, which form a group of their own within the perennials, spring up quickly and with great force, delighting the gardener's heart with their colourful display. Many bulbs are also valuable for bees and other insects. Like perennials, flower bulbs and tubers are hardy and perennial. That's why they are great for the longer term. The bulbs and tubers come back every year, and if the location suits them, they will even multiply and grow into colourful flower carpets. For the design of gardens, balconies and terraces, flower bulbs play an important role in many ways. Depending on the variety, these blooms extend the flowering period from February to early summer by many months. That's why it is such a good idea to buy these types of flowers.

The Life Cycle of Flower Bulbs

Flowering bulbs are usually planted in September and October. Small flower bulbs such as crocuses can be planted in mild weather even into November. Larger bulbs, however, thrive better if they are placed in the still slightly warm soil. The bulbs and tubers form the beginning of the shoots and flowers in the old year. And in slightly warm soil they form strong roots even before the winter. Sometimes all the splendour for the spring is created before the first snow in the underground storage organs. That's why they can sprout out so fast in the spring and bloom in full glory right after the last snow. The vast majority of bulbs bloom in March and April. Some particularly early species and varieties, such as wild botanical crocuses, snowdrops or winter aconites, and some particularly early daffodils, such as Narcissus ‘February Gold’, can flower in February. Some bulbous flowers such as the late-flowering parrot tulips or the ornamental lilies bloom into June. After flowering, the plants wither and draw their strength back into their bulbs. That is why it is important not to cut off the withered foliage after flowering. Until summer, the plants have usually completely decayed, and then they die back into the ground until the next spring.

   
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Alpine Squill

Scilla bifolia

£3.50 *

Alpine Squill 'Alba'

Scilla bifolia 'Alba'

£3.50 *

Alpine Squill 'Rosea'

Scilla bifolia 'Rosea'

£3.80 *

Anemone Mixture 'White Splendour' & Muscari 'Blue Magic'

Anemone 'White Splendour' & Muscari 'Blue Magic' (Mix)

£17.40 *

Armenian Grape Hyacinth

Muscari armeniacum

£2.60 *

Azure Grape Hyacinth

Muscari azureum

£3.10 *

Blue-flowered Garlic

Allium caeruleum

£2.30 *

Botanical Crocus 'Cream Beauty'

Crocus chrysanthus 'Cream Beauty'

£2.80 *

Botanical Crocus 'Romance'

Crocus chrysanthus 'Romance'

£2.00 *

Botanical Crocus 'Snowbunting'

Crocus chrysanthus 'Snowbunting'

£2.80 *

Botanical Crocus 'Spring Beauty'

Crocus minimus 'Spring Beauty'

£4.40 *

Botanical Crocus 'Tricolor'

Crocus sieberi subsp. sublimis 'Tricolor'

£2.40 *

   
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Flower bulbs

Buying the Best Flower Bulbs

Most flower bulbs are sold in autumn during their resting period. The sleeping bulbs or tubers are the cheapest and best option to get these flowers in your garden. Buying healthy, fresh bulbs is therefore not difficult. One recognises the good ones, as they look firm and plump. If you touch them, they are a little elastic and give way to pressure. On the other hand, if they are too hard and brittle, then they are too dry and will no longer grow well. Bulbs and tubers should also have no damage or discolouration. This is usually a sign that they have been attacked by fungi or bacteria. The size of the bulbs reflects the size of the flowers to be expected. Especially with the tulips, it makes sense to buy the largest possible bulbs. With tubers or rhizomes, such as winter aconites or anemones, however, it is the case that these bulbs are sold in a hard and dry state. Otherwise, they would rot quickly in the packaging. These nodules or rhizomes must be soaked in lukewarm water overnight before planting, then they will grow well. All bulbs and tubers should be planted as soon as possible after purchasing them so that they do not dry out or get mouldy. Once in the ground, they quickly begin to form roots.

Planting Properly

When you buy new bulbs, you must be careful when planting them that the bulbs are planted at the right depth in the soil or in the container. The basic rule is this: plant at least twice as deep as the bulbs are high. A tulip bulb that is six centimetres high should be planted 12 centimetres deep into the ground. The hole may well be a bit bigger, and if the ground is hard, it makes sense to loosen it well before planting and to add some compost. Then carefully put the bulbs into the prepared planting hole. The shoot tip must always point upwards and the root base downwards. Then fill the hole with soil and compost, press down and water. Especially the moisture-loving bulbs such as snake's head fritillary and prairie lilies must be well-watered. Even daffodils are always watered after planting. However, some flower bulbs are very sensitive to waterlogging. With these, make the planting hole a few inches deeper, and add a layer of coarse sand first. These bulbs are then placed on this sand bed so they do not mould or rot. Especially with tulips and lilies, this makes sense because these waterlogged conditions are not tolerated well. These drought-loving bulbs should not be packed in too tight.

At Which Distance Should They Be Planted?

The distance between the individual bulbs strongly depends on the varieties and their intended use. For large tulips and daffodils, a distance of 20 to 30 centimetres between the bulbs is preferable. Small flower bulbs such as crocuses or winter aconites can be planted with a distance of only 10 centimetres. If they are to grow wild under trees or in a meadow, they look best if they are planted irregularly. To do this, gently drop the bulbs on the ground and plant them exactly where they fall. When used in perennial beds, most bulbous flowers look best in loose groups. Individually, however, they usually seem a bit lost. Often it makes sense to plant several groups of the same varieties that repeat themselves through the bed. Again, the distance between the individual bulbous flowers can be kept irregular, so that the planting acts as natural as possible. In pots and containers, on the other hand, the bulbs should be planted as densely as possible in order to improve the effect.

Design Options

Bulbs and tubers offer almost infinite possibilities for design and use. They enrich gardens, balconies and terraces and extend the flowering period for containers and perennial beds for many months. Small flower bulbs such as crocuses, snowdrops and winter aconites are ideal for growing in the lawn. Ideally, they are planted in places where the grass is already worn out and not much mowed, for example in the shade of trees. Even daffodils and wild tulips such as the Tulipa biflora can be naturalised. Over the years, they grow in a suitable location to a dense carpet of flowers. Larger daffodils such as Narcissus poeticus are suitable for higher, wild meadows. Small wild tulips and botanical crocuses, on the other hand, are best displayed in a rock garden.

In the garden, these types of bulbs are often used as colourful islands between shrubs and woody plants. For this purpose, they are preferably planted in groups in order to improve the effect. The possibilities are almost unlimited for use in the garden, and the different types and varieties of bulbs can all be combined according to your mood. Only the location needs to be respected: some bulbs such Snake's Head Fritillary like it rather shady and damp; other bulbs such as tulips like to have a hot, dry location in the summer. But most bulbs also thrive in locations that are not quite perfect for their needs. If in doubt, just buy some of the flower bulbs you want and try them out at various locations in your garden.

The other classic use of flower bulbs is in containers. Here they are planted together with pansies, forget-me-nots and other biennial spring flowers, and then removed after flowering to make room for the summer flowers. When used in this way, flower bulbs can be stored in boxes with soil so that they can rebuild their foliage there. Then they can be stored dried over the summer and can be planted again the next autumn.

In Containers

All flower bulbs can also be best grown in containers. The larger varieties should be planted in pots that are adapted to their size, so they have enough hold in wind. Smaller bulb flowers can also be grown in normal window boxes. In particular, smaller wild tulips and daffodils and of course crocuses are also suitable for smaller containers. They can also thrive on exposed and slightly windy balconies. Bulbs planted in containers need good drainage. Ideally, you should first pour some gravel or expanded clay into the containers and then cover this drainage layer with a fleece. Only then should the soil be placed on top. The most ideal is a permeable substrate of garden soil and compost, which may well be mixed with some sand. Depending on the size of the container, the bulbs should be planted approximately in the middle. Put more bulbs and plant more densely in the pots than you would do so in the garden. It is also possible to plant larger containers in multiple layers. For this purpose, plant the large bulbs at the bottom, then add some soil, then plant the next smaller bulbs. At the top, place varieties such as crocuses or winter aconites. Thus, the flowering period of the container is distributed throughout the spring.

Proper care

Large bulbs, such as larger tulips, should be fully fertilised in the spring when they sprout. This is especially important for bulbs planted in containers because without enough food they can only produce their big flowers with difficulty. For wild tulips and daffodils, however, some compost is enough as food. After flowering, larger flowers are usually cut away from the dead foliage, in particular, this should be done with tulips and daffodils so that the plants do not waste too much power to form seeds. They multiply better with daughter bulbs. With small and wild bulbs, however, you leave them so that they can reseed themselves. Important for all bulb flowers is that the foliage is not cut away. It must be able to wither in peace. During this process, the plants store the energy from the leaves back into the bulbs. Large-flowered breeds can also be supplied with liquid fertiliser during this phase. Only when the foliage is completely shrivelled can it be removed. For bulbs that grow in the lawn, this means that you can only mow at the beginning of summer when the leaves of the bulb flowers have completely withered.

So for superb flower displays in the spring...look no further than buying some flower bulbs.

 

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