Growing Bulbs in the Garden: Bulb Culture

Bulbs in the Garden

Spring flowering bulbs find a place in every kind of garden—the rock garden, the formal garden, the mixed borders, and the beds in the lawn.

Bulbs flowering in springtime need not interfere with the ordinary planting routine of the flower garden. Bulbs are so accommodating that they may be shifted safely as the seasons change. It is possible to lift them as soon as the flowers fade, and replant them elsewhere—in any odd corner of the garden, where they can continue the normal process of building up the bulb for another season. It is not generally sufficiently understood, that when the flower has faded the plant has by no means finished its season’s work.

Bulbs that have bloomed indoors must still be watered, even after the flowers have died, and the leaves must be allowed to die down naturally and not cut off. For a month or two after flowering, the plant is making a fresh bulb for the next season, by storing plant food below the soil.

Planting in Beds

As the beds where you wish to plant your bulbs are cleared of their summer flowers, clean and dig them well, and add some well-rotted manure. Do not use fresh manure. A dusting of lime over the soil is good. As soon after this as the soil is in the right condition, ie. mellow and crumbly, the planting of bulbs can begin. Rake down the surface to get it even, and then, place the bulbs on the top of the soil, in the positions in which you want to plant them. By doing this you not only ensure symmetrical designs and even distances, but you can more easily plan definite colour schemes. Then plant the bulbs, using a trowel to dig each hole.

If you put an inch layer of sand all over the bed before you start, you will find that, as you make holes with the trowel, a little of the sand will fall into each. This is all to the good, as this tiny cushion of sand beneath it will prevent the bulb from rotting.

Rake the surface soil level after the planting is finished. When you plant groups in the mixed border you will find it a good practice to put a few pegs in to mark the site, so that you do not forget where they are and disturb the bulbs during the winter clean-up.

Naturalizing Bulbs in Grass

Nature is never mean. When she plants she uses a lavish hand, for she knows that clumps, groups or masses always appear better than isolated specimens dotted here and there. A very good method of planting bulbs in grass is to take them in handfuls and then scatter them on the ground. Plant them where they fall, using a trowel for large bulbs, and a dibber for smaller ones (or one of the special bulb-planting tools). Good bulbs for naturalizing are:—Crocus, Narcissus (all kinds), Galanthus (Snowdrops), Fritillaria meleagris, Anemones.

No better place can be found for Crocus than on the lawn or in grassy banks, because in these places, where they remain undisturbed for years, they increase in numbers from year to year.

Crocuses thrive beneath deciduous trees and are lovely in the orchard garden. When planting any bulbs in grass, strip off the turf, stir the soil beneath and then plant the bulbs. Then replace the turf, and roll it well. Remember that the grass must not be mown closely after the bulbs show until the leaves have turned quite yellow, otherwise there will be no flowers the following year. That is one reason why it is best to plant under trees, and to set the bulbs close to the bole of the tree.

Spring Bulbs in the Herbaceous Border

In planting bulbs in the long borders it is often wise to refrain from attempting any definite colour scheme or design. Bulbs appear to greater advantage if grown in groups than in straight lines, especially in a mixed border. A splash of colour here and there among the green spring shoots of the ordinary border perennials is delightful, but odd bulbs dotted regularly along the border are neither impressive nor beautiful.

Bulbs in the Rock Garden

Many spring-flowering bulbous plants inhabit the pockets of soil on the mountain sides, and they are quite suitable for planting in as companions to other spring flowers. There is, however, just one point to be remembered in connexion with bulbs that are grown in the rock garden, and that is that the foliage must be allowed to die down naturally after the blooms have faded. A little liquid manure given at this time helps to stimulate the plants for another spring. The best kinds to use for rockery pockets are the smaller bulbs—Snowdrops, Scilla sibirica, Anemones, Hoop Petticoat, Narcissus, etc.

Bulbs in the Wild Garden

Although not every garden has its wild corner, there are plenty of gardens where shrubs and trees are grown, in more or less informal fashion, to fill up odd corners, or make a shelter bank between the garden and the roadway. Under trees of this kind, bulbs could well be planted to grow permanently. The kinds chosen should be those which will naturalize well and increase in beaut}- from year to year. Bluebells do this in their native haunts, so do Winter Aconites, Daffodils and Snowdrops.

It is usually quite unnecessary to prepare the soil of a tiny woodland in any way before planting. All that need be done is to plant the bulbs with a trowel, avoiding any kind of formal arrangement. The cheap supplies of bulbs that are sold off at the end of the season, at low rates, are quite suitable for such plantings, which can in consequence be generous.

Under deciduous trees and shrubs, bulbs are especially satisfactory. They flower brightly while the leaves are absent, and the developing foliage of the shrub or tree above hides the decaying foliage of the bulb, so that it can remain without looking untidy.

Bulbs by the Waterside

Another place in which bulbs of this kind can be used is in drifts by the waterside. Bulbs will not tolerate a waterlogged soil, so that it is useless to plant them in boggy sites, but in the artificial water garden, and even in the natural one, the waterside soil is not always sodden below, and where well-drained subsoil exists, bulbs make a delightful show of early colour, that reflects charmingly in the water of a stream, or the depths of a formal pool.

Bulbs all the Year Round

It is quite possible to have bulbs of some kind in flower in the garden all the year round. Apart from those that flower in the spring, there are a great number that are summer and autumn beauties. The following is a short list that indicates how varied this class of plants is in time of flowering: —


Crocus, Narcissus, Fritillary, Tulip, Hyacinth, Leucojum, Anemone.


Lilies, Gladiolus, Begonias, Iris.


Colchicum, Gladiolus, Montbretias.


Snowdrops, Winter Aconite, Iris stylosa, Iris reticulata.

04. September 2013 by admin
Categories: Fruit Gardening, Kitchen Gardens, Uncategorized, Vegetable Gardening | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Growing Bulbs in the Garden: Bulb Culture


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