Bulbs af­ter­care

Gardening Australia - - CONTENTS -

In Aus­tralia, spring-flow­er­ing bulbs be­gin their dis­play as early as May, then con­tinue through win­ter un­til Oc­to­ber or Novem­ber in cooler zones. As the weather warms up, the flower show for late bloom­ing bulbs, in­clud­ing tulips, hy­acinths, daf­fodils, blue­bells, Dutch iris, anemone and ra­nun­cu­lus, is in full swing, and it’s peak time to visit open spring gar­dens and bulb dis­plays.

In your own gar­den, keep up the water and fort­nightly feed­ing while your bulbs’ leaves are green, then ease off as fo­liage yel­lows. As flow­ers fin­ish, re­move spent flower stalks to fo­cus your bulbs’ en­ergy into food stor­age, rather than seed pro­duc­tion. Don’t be tempted to cut back the fo­liage. Al­low leaves to die down nat­u­rally, so that they make plenty of food for next sea­son’s flow­er­ing.

If the un­tidy look both­ers you, plant vi­o­las or pan­sies over the top. Com­bin­ing bulbs with tall-flow­er­ing peren­ni­als such as Aqui­le­gia spp., Pen­ste­mon spp. or salvias dis­guises the fad­ing bulb fo­liage and main­tains a colour­ful spring dis­play.

to lift or not?

In warm and tem­per­ate ar­eas, which don’t ex­pe­ri­ence cold win­ters or frost, bulbs left in the ground may get too hot, and can over­heat and wither in the soil over sum­mer. Equally, bulbs can rot dur­ing wet, hu­mid sum­mers. Bulbs that re­quire lifting in­clude tulips, cro­cuses, hy­acinths, fancy daf­fodils and al­li­ums.

Dig th­ese out of the ground, shake off ex­cess soil and place in trays, boxes, bas­kets or string bags.

Gla­di­oli, spring stars (Ipheion spp.), snowflakes (Leu­co­jum spp.), freesias, Sparaxis spp., ix­ias, com­mon daf­fodils and ner­ines can be left in the ground year af­ter year. To keep soil cooler dur­ing sum­mer, it’s a good idea to ap­ply a 5cm layer of mulch over the soil or grow spread­ing an­nu­als or ground­cov­ers over the top.

Store bulbs the same way you store onions – in a cool, dry place, with good air cir­cu­la­tion.

Keep them there un­til next April, when they will need to be chilled to ini­ti­ate flow­er­ing. Re­frig­er­ate for 5–6 weeks un­til Mother's Day, then re­plant into your gar­den or in pots from mid-May.

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