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7 Flowering Bulbs To Plant Now

7 Flowering Bulbs To Plant Now

There are hundreds of plants we loosely term bulbs, but only those with an onion-like structure made up of layers of fleshy scale leaves (actually storage tissues formed during the previous season’s growth) are true bulbs. Some of the most common examples are anemone, daffodil, jonquil, hyacinth, tulip and freesia. Autumn is the time to start planting these miniature marvels for flowering in spring. Here’s the nitty gritty on what you could be planting now.

1. Freesias
South African Freesias have almost become a weed in some places, but the sweet fragrance of their flowers means most of us are happy to forgive their prolificacy. Plant them where they will have plenty of space to spread to their heart’s content, preferably in a sunny position. Other South African bulbs that do well in warmer regions include Sparaxis, Tritonia, Babiana and Ixia.

Sun requirement: Full to partial shade
Bloom time: Late winter, early spring
Planting tips: Plant Freesia bulbs pointy end up and water well after planting.

2. Crocus
Spring-flowering Crocus do best in cooler regions. In warmer areas, plant in semi-shaded spots, under trees, for instance. Crocus need good drainage.

Sun requirement: Full to partial shade
Bloom time: Late winter, early spring
Planting tips: Plant bulbs in cool, moist soil, about 10cm from each other.

3. Ranunculus
For glorious, rich colour in spring, you can’t beat a sumptuous drift of Ranunculus. These grow from claw-shaped corms, similar to but not technically bulbs. Rather than digging them up and storing them over summer, as you do with many other spring bulbs, it’s better to plant new corms each year. Ranunculus prefer full sun and soil that is fertile, well drained and friable.

Sun requirement: Full (preferable) to partial shade
Bloom time: Spring/summer
Planting tips: Make sure you plant Ranunculus with their ‘claws’ pointing downwards.

4. Tulips
Who can resist the stunning bell-shaped flowers and myriad colours of the tulip ? Definitely very few gardeners as this bulb remains one of the most popular on the planet and has been highly sought after for centuries.

Sun requirement: Position cool-climate bulbs such as tulips and hyacinths in dappled shade, particularly in warmer areas. To get them flowering really well, many people put them and other cold-climate bulbs like hyacinth in the refrigerator for three to four weeks before planting.
Planting tips: Although the general rule of thumb with bulbs is to plant them two times deeper than the length of the bulb in warm areas, tulips should be planted deeper (20-30cm).

5. Bluebells
You might have heard of the common English bluebell, but in fact the Spanish bluebell is even better for our climates as it’s more tolerant of heat. Both types are great for mass planting under deciduous trees as they do well in a semi-shaded position.

Sun requirement: Partial shade
Bloom time: Spring through to summer
Planting tips: Plant English and Spanish types 7cm deep and 10cm apart. Mass plant for a stunning spring show.

6. Daffodils
Daffodils are synonymous with springtime and can be planted anytime from February through to June, but late March to early April is perfect. They do well in a half sun to full sun aspect with good drainage and look best when planted in clumps and masses. The golden, early-flowering ‘King Alfred’ daffodil is ideal for cooler southern regions.

Sun requirement: Full to partial shade only
Bloom time: Spring
Planting tips: Plant daffodils twice as deep as the width of the bulb in either pots or drifts in the garden.

7. Jonquils
Part of the same family, jonquils are wonderfully fragrant and have a wide climatic tolerance that makes them easy to grow in most regions of Australia, except the tropics.
How to plant your bulbs
Choose firm, heavy bulbs. Avoid those that seem light, bruised, or marked in any way. They prefer a free-draining sandy loam soil, so if yours is heavy clay, add coarse sand and plenty of organic matter to break it down. Just before planting, you need to add either an all-purpose or bulb fertiliser. Mix it into soil well so it doesn’t come into contact with your bulbs. Generally, bulbs should be planted at a depth that’s twice their width. Bulbs look best planted in large drifts or clumps, as show here.

TIP: If you have the space, allow spring bulbs to naturalise (i.e. flower every year without needing to be lifted in winter, and keep multiplying to gradually create large drifts). Some of the best bulbs for naturalising are jonquils, daffodils, Freesias, Spanish bluebells and snowflakes.

BONUS TIP: Many spring flowering bulbs actually flower in winter. Others will flower earlier if grown inside. To remind you that spring is on its way, even though skies might be grey, fill pots inside the house with Crocus, snowdrops, jonquils and early-blooming daffodil.

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