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Plant a Bed of Spring Bulbs

Harbingers of spring, bulbs transform sleeping gardens into oceans of color as the seasons turn.

Excerpted from How to Grow Practically Everything
bulbs turn sleeping winter garden into sping show How To Grow Practically Everything ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010

When to Start: Mid autumn
At Its Best: Early to late spring
Time to Complete: 30 minutes for planting

Materials Needed:

  • fork
  • spade
  • bulb planter or trowel
  • chicken wire
  • selection of spring bulbs

Prepare to Plant

All bulbs need well-drained soil, so if you have heavy clay, either dig in plenty of organic matter before you start or grow them in pots. You can either plant bulbs individually, using a bulb planter or trowel, or dig a wide hole and plant them en masse, which is an easier method and more naturalistic.

dig hole and plant bulbs en masseHow To Grow Practically Everything ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010

Dig a Hole

Dig to a depth of about 2–4 times the height of your bulbs. Place the bulbs in the hole with the pointed growing tip facing upward. Discard any that are moldy or soft.

put bulbs in hole with pointed growing tip upHow To Grow Practically Everything ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010

Cover Bulbs

Fill in the hole with soil, taking care not to damage the growing tips, and firm it down with your fingers. Cover with chicken wire to prevent animals from digging up the bulbs; remove it when the first shoots appear.

cover with chicken wire once bulbs are plantedHow To Grow Practically Everything ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010

Planting Snowdrops

Snowdrops have tiny bulbs that dehydrate quickly and often fail to flower if planted in fall. Instead, buy pot-grown bulbs in leaf in the spring and plant them so that the pale bases of the stems are just below the soil surface. If you already have large clumps of snowdrops, lift and divide them in spring, after flowering.

snowdrops bloom in early springHow To Grow Practically Everything ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010

Plant Depth

For bulbs to succeed, you need to plant them at the right depth, usually two to four times the height of the bulb. Plant too shallowly, and they may not flower; too deep, and they might not grow at all.

Tulips prefer to be planted deeply, four times their own depth; a 2" bulb is planted 8 inches deep (image 1). Daffodils are planted three times their own depth; a 2" bulb is planted 6 inches deep (image 2). Plant grape hyacinths at three times their depth; a 3/4" bulb is planted at a depth of 2-1/2 inches (image 3). Alliums are also planted at three times their depth; a 1-1/4" bulb should be planted 3-1/2 inches deep (image 4).

  • tulips prefer to be planted deeplyHow To Grow Practically Everything ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010
  • daffodils planted 3 times their own depthHow To Grow Practically Everything ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010
  • plant grape hyacinths 3 times their own depthHow To Grow Practically Everything ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010
  • alliums are planted three times their own depthHow To Grow Practically Everything ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010

Excerpted from How to Grow Practically Everything

© Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010

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