Planting Summer Bulbs

There's a simple answer to this question: summer bulbs. Whether you own an acre or an anthill, planting summer bulbs will give your garden the adrenaline rush of colour that it longs for. It doesn't have to be a difficult task either. This article will tell you everything you need to know about planting summer bulbs, from when, where and how to plant them, to reusing old bulbs the following year.

Summer bulbs should be planted in the spring. If it is cold during the early weeks of spring, wait until the soil has warmed first. The perfect temperature for the soil is 13�°. Any colder and they won't sprout, and become under risk of rotting altogether. In particular, loam and peat soils heat up fast, while common garden clay soils do not. Also, soil in a container will heat up faster than soil in the ground. Different bulbs will require different conditions under which to thrive, most of which will be specified on the bulb packaging. In terms of providing the best soil for your bulb, have a look at this article which looks at different soil types:

Make sure you purchase bulbs which are healthy. Anything with even just a trace of mould cannot be used (these should disposed of away from other plant material). Once you've got your bulbs, try to plant them as soon as possible. The longer you hold onto them, the more it will negatively affect their growth.

When it comes to planting summer bulbs, there are two options as to where to put them. They can either go in the border/beds of the garden or in individual pots/containers. The method for planting in a border is somewhat different to the method for planting in a container.

For the border, you want to dig a hole which is two to three times deeper than the height of the bulb. So if the bulb measures 2cm in height, you'll need a hole which is 4-6cm deep. Of course, for the fullest display, you'll want to plant multiples of each bulb in one area. I would advise at least five or six. You should space the bulbs by two widths of whichever bulb you are planting so that they can grow fully. When placing the bulbs in their holes, make sure they are facing with their shoot upwards. Finally, when you are covering the bulbs with soil, do so loosely. Do not compress the soil on top of your bulbs as this can damage their growth.

For a container, the hole should be around the same depth (2-3x the height of the bulb) and they should be spaced one bulb width apart. With bulbs in a container, be sure to give them plenty of water. Water is, of course, important for those in the border but they are more likely to get touched with the rain. If they do not then you should water those too. When summer bulbs begin to go dormant, however, you can water them less. For bulbs in containers, you should fertilise them with plant good every seven to ten days. This will give them an overall healthier growth. As with border bulbs, do not compress the soil under which they grow.

Always keep an eye out for rot among your summer bulbs, or any plants. If you are unfortunate enough to happen upon rot or disease, remove the contaminated plants immediately and dispose of them to avoid spreading the infection to the rest.

Now, you've planted your bulbs successfully, you've looked after them for a summer and now autumn has arrived. The weather becomes cooler and the plants begin to wither, regress and die. Bulbs planted in the borders and beds of your garden will return next year with another beautiful crop of flowers (think of the annual arrival of snow drops in the garden). The ones in containers will return too, but you don't have to leave those dormant in the containers for another year. There is a way to safely remove them, store them, and allow you to use that container for other purposes. ââ?¬Å?Howââ?¬Â, you may ask?

When the leaves of your container bulbs begin to turn yellow or brown, this is the signal that they are ready to be removed. Carefully dig the bulbs up. Brush away any loose soil and trim back their dead leaves to half an inch on top of the bulb. Once you have done this with all the bulbs, check there is no sign of rot. Place the healthy bulbs on a tray and allow them to dry overnight in the garden shed, or a pantry. In the morning, place these bulbs in dry paper bags or on stacking trays and store them in the garden shed until you need them next year. It takes a little effort, but allows you to free up your pots without losing the bulbs.

So that's how we plant our bulbs, tend to them and then remove them. There are a variety of different summer bulbs to choose from.

You could try planting lilies. These in particular require a very fertile soil. Lilies will brighten up the border of any garden, and come in a variety of different colours. You can get the white Madonna Lily or the pink/lilac Rubrum Lily. There is the Lankongense Lily which is rosy purple in colour and the Henryi Lily which is orange and yellow. Aside from these four there are numerous other types of lily, of numerous colours. Warning: Lilies are poisonous to cats, so be wary when planting them.

The yellow and white flowers of the Dahlia look beautiful in your garden borders, as do the puffy purple heads of the Allium. For a blue coloured Allium, try the Caeruleum variety.

A final plant to try, which look wonderful on the border or in hanging baskets, is Begonias. These come usually with pinkish flowers but can be found in other colours too.

These are merely a few examples from a multitude of summer bulbs which you can plant.

One suggestion is to involve the children and grandchildren in the planting process. They'll love it.

Follow these simple steps and you can have the most vibrant garden display possible this summer. It's not difficult and it's not boring. Good luck and happy planting.

Dylan Blyth.

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