I have always wanted more colour in my summer garden, so this year I was determined to get my summer bulbs – including corms and tubers – in on time. Alliums, agapanthus, dahlias, gladioli, begonias, autumn-flowering nerines – the list of plants that brighten borders and patio containers from June right through to October (and sometimes beyond) is almost endless. How to plant summer bulbs?
The ideal time to get bulbs in the ground is early spring, when the soil is starting to warm up. Most bulbs will grow happily in containers, especially those with large, showy flowers such as lilies, arum lilies, agapanthus and alliums. In open soil, plants bulbs in large groups for a real punch of colour. Here’s how to do it….
How to Plant Bulbs in Containers:
If you want a showy patio container full of colour this summer, why not try planting two types of lily bulbs – try ‘Ladylike’ and ‘Crimson Pixie’.
For bulbs that are only going to spend one season in their container, use a mix of three parts multi-purpose compost with one part grit. For long-term container displays, like this one, use three parts John Innes No 2 compost mixed with one part grit.
Good drainage is important to avoid waterlogging and rotten bulbs, so add crocks to the base of the container. I used broken bits from old pots.
Start filling the pot with compost mix. Bulbs should be planted at three times their own height, paced one bulb apart. Make sure the ‘pointy bit’ of the bulb is facing upwards.
Cover the bulbs with the remaining compost, leaving an inch at the top of the container for watering. Firm the compost, but don’t compact it.
Water the bulbs well to make sure moisture reaches down t them and doesn’t just wet the top of the compost.
Finally, place your container on pot feet. This helps drainage further, especially as the weather can be very wet at this time of year.
How to Plant Bulbs in Beds & Borders:
A large clump of colourful perennials, such as gladioli, agapanthus, dahlias or nerines, is a joy to behold.
I planted a batch of Gladiolus callianthus ‘Murielai’, because I love their delicate, star-shaped blooms with dark purple insets.
Here’s how to do it….
Before planting bulbs, prepare your soil by firstly hoeing away weeds, then forking it over to get rid of stones and roots, taking care not to disturb bulbs already planted. Finally rake over the soil to get a fine tilth.
This preparation may seem time-consuming but it’s worth it – look at these whopping pieces of flint I removed from the border!
Then dig your hole or trench. Because the soil in my border is quite stony and not particularly rich, I added some Growmore to give them an extra boost.
Whether planted singly or in a clump, bulbs should be planted at three times their own depth – and a bulb’s width apart if in a group.
Cover the bulbs and lightly firm down the soil with the back of a rake, but not too heavily. Avoid treading on the soil as this can damage the bulbs.
Finally, mark where you have planted your bulbs so you don’t accidentally disturb them later on. I threaded a thin bamboo stake through the picture on the bulb packet. Then make yourself a well-deserved cuppa!
Source: Amateur Gardening
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