Autumn has hardly begun and it is already time to think ahead and begin planting bulbs for the spring garden. If planted now spring bulbs will establish roots before winter arrives giving them the longest period to grow and mature.
This insures better plant health, quality and quantity of bloom. These beautiful blooms are well worth the little effort it takes to grow them. For any garden lover who has ever endured a long, cold, grey winter the sight of the first spring daffodil or snowdrop peeping through melting snow is almost a religious experience.
That special lingering fragrance of hyacinths, a bed of gracefully arching tulips glowing in the spring sunshine, or drifts of molten yellow crocus, all bring fond garden memories to the botanically devout. Ask any of them and they will reassure the uninitiated that growing spring bulbs is exciting, easy and memorably worthwhile.
Many spring bulbs are native to the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. They prefer cold winters, cool and damp springs, and drier summer weather.
Included here are:
most narcissus species, grape hyacinths, tulips, scilla, chionodoxa, frittilaria, crocus, iris, galtonia, ornithogalum, and many more.
In very cold climates these bulbs represent the bulk of spring colour. Galanthus (Leucojum – snowdrop) and winter aconite are famous for popping their hardy heads through snow.
The buds of crocus, early daffodils and tiny rock tulips are so hardy they are sometimes frozen by late cold snaps and still flower undamaged the same afternoon!
Another group of spring flowering bulbs come from the Mediterranean, South Africa, and other milder climate zones with cool, damp winters and hot, dry summers. New shoots and occasional blooms appear in late autumn or winter.
This tender growth can be damaged by severe freezing so they are restricted to sheltered gardens or the cool glasshouse. These bulbs are excellent for warm, drier positions.
Included here are:
freesia, babiana, ixia, sparaxis, tritonia, lachenalia, some anemone, narcissus, ranunculus and gladioli species.
Here are a few points to remember when planning and planting bulbs for spring flowering: