Landscaping NZ
Yates
Waimea Nurseries
Herb Herbert
Tui - A Friend In Your Garden
handy helpers

Bulbs

Celebrating the end of winter, vibrant spring flowering bulbs give maximum effect for minimum effort.

There is no limit to the number of bulbs that can be planted to give late winter and early spring colour. With a bit of careful planning there could be bulbs flowering in your garden right through to late summer.

Bulbs are always popular for the masses of flowers they produce and their fragrance. They are great for picking and can be grown in patio pots.

At a Glance

  • Planting in autumn for spring flowering and winter time for summers
  • Flowering bulbs thrive in any well drained garden soil.
  • Bulbs are a plants stored-up food supply for growth and flowering the next season. The term bulb loosely covers all bulbs and includes tubers, corms and rhizomes.
  • Bulbs are made up of layers of fleshy scales. Onions, Liliums and Daffodils are true bulbs.
  • Corms are solid flesh, sometimes woody looking. As the corm grows bulblets are formed and the old one shrivels up and disappears. Gladioli, Freesias and Anemones are corms.
  • Tubers are thickened shoots. The best known tuber is the Potato. Cyclamen and Begonias are also tubers.
  • Rhizomes are fleshy creeping stems that produce roots and flower spikes. A good example is the Flag Iris.

When to Plant

Most popular spring flowering bulbs such as Anemones, Hyacinths and Daffodils are planted in autumn through to early winter. 

Popular summer flowering bulbs such as Dahlias and Begonias are planted in late winter to early spring.

Where to Plant

Bulbs will thrive in most well drained soils. Most do not tolerate waterlogged soils for long.   Japanese Iris and Arum lilies are two that will tolerate damp conditions.

If planting into a heavy soil, such as clay, add sand to the bottoms of the planting hole to improve drainage. Raise beds.

Plant in clumps, at random, scattered in the garden or under deciduous trees, in drifts of colour using combinations that complement each other, or in borders among annuals, perennials and shrubs.

Smaller delicate bulbs are better suited to rockeries.

How to Plant

The general guideline for planting is to plant the bulb to a depth equal to twice the bulbs diameter. For example, if a daffodil bulb is 5cm in diameter, the planting depth is normally 10cm.

Use the following guide for more help.

After Care ...

When flowering has finished, let the leaves yellow and die down completely. The leaves contain the bulbs food supply for the following season.

Bulbs can be lifted and stored at the end of the season.  Lift bulbs if the soil gets very hot in summer as they are in danger of roasting, or if the ground freezes or is waterlogged in winter.

Otherwise, lift bulbs just as the foliage starts to die down leaving leaves attached until they naturally dry off. Store bulbs in a cool dry airy room in a net bag or similar.

A dusting of fungicide will protect the bulb in storage.

Most bulbs can be left in the ground for 2-3 years until they become overcrowded when they can be dug up, divided, replanted or stored.

Feeding

Use a specially blended bulb food such as Tui Bulb Food, or bone flour, for the best results.

Apply the  food when shoots start appearing above the soil surface and again when flowering has finished. 

This ensures plenty of flowers the following season.

 

 

Watering

With spring flowering bulbs, nature takes care of watering with rain. 

Summer and autumn flowering bulbs may need additional water during their growing season to ensure a colourful display.

 

 

Mulching

All bulbs will benefit from a layer of mulch to keep the soil cool and moist. Apply a layer of mulch approximately 2cm thick soon after planting.

Pests and Diseases

Bulbs are reasonably pest and disease free.

Slugs and snails love new bulb shoots and flowers.  Regularly apply Quash Slug and Snail pellets or Baysol pellets.

Other Uses

Bulbs are great for picking and their fragrance fills the room.

Bulbs grow well in patio pots, tubs and bowls.  The best bulbs to grow in containers are Daffodils, Freesias, Hyacinths, Lilies, Grape Hyacinths, Lachenalia, Tulips, Blue Bells, Crocus, Begonias, Dahlias and Calla Lilies.

Refer to the Handy Helper on Container Gardening for more information.

 

 

                First remove all perennial weeds, such as couch and dock, with a fork and then with a rotary hoe cultivate a seed bed about 20cm deep. Hollows and high places must be levelled out. Use a long board as well as much tramping with your heals - this will find all the soft spots that would sink and create hollows after the very first rain. A roller is not suitable at this stage for developing a level surface as it will simply roll the mounds and straddle the low bits.

                Most lawns are sown with fine leafed grass seed such as Fescue and Browntop and this is fine for a show lawn. But for a hard wearing lawn that will take the punishment of family cricket and playful dogs select a lawn mixture that contains some Rye in the mix. Clover is not recommended in a good lawn as it produces a large head of leaves that spread over a largish area in summer then shrinks back in winter, allowing weeds to take over before the clover re-grows.

                Because the seed is so small divide the whole lot into four parts and sow up and down the area then across as well as diagonally for an even coverage. Rake the seed in very lightly and roll. Moisten each morning to stop the birds from enjoying wonderful dust baths and you will find cats are not fond of digging damp soil either. Moisture is also vital for germination.  When the grass is 6cm to 8cm high it may be cut with a lawn mower set high.

                OLD LAWNS that are only slightly uneven and have good grass can be transformed into a really nice lawn. Spray out dandelions and daisies and 

            Autumn is the best time to sow a NEW LAWN and rejuvenate an old lawn. Lawns establish better from March to mid April when the autumn rains will soak well into the soil while it is still warm.

                First remove all perennial weeds, such as couch and dock, with a fork and then with a rotary hoe cultivate a seed bed about 20cm deep. Hollows and high places must be levelled out. Use a long board as well as much tramping with your heals - this will find all the soft spots that would sink and create hollows after the very first rain. A roller is not suitable at this stage for developing a level surface as it will simply roll the mounds and straddle the low bits.

                Most lawns are sown with fine leafed grass seed such as Fescue and Browntop and this is fine for a show lawn. But for a hard wearing lawn that will take the punishment of family cricket and playful dogs select a lawn mixture that contains some Rye in the mix. Clover is not recommended in a good lawn as it produces a large head of leaves that spread over a largish area in summer then shrinks back in winter, allowing weeds to take over before the clover re-grows.

                Because the seed is so small divide the whole lot into four parts and sow up and down the area then across as well as diagonally for an even coverage. Rake the seed in very lightly and roll. Moisten each morning to stop the birds from enjoying wonderful dust baths and you will find cats are not fond of digging damp soil either. Moisture is also vital for germination.  When the grass is 6cm to 8cm high it may be cut with a lawn mower set high.

                OLD LAWNS that are only slightly uneven and have good grass can be transformed into a really nice lawn. Spray out dandelions and daisies and rake or scarify up old thatched grasses that tend to choke out a lot of lawn grass which is often the cause of a thin patchy lawn. Fill in the low areas with soil and tramp, rake, level and sow lawn seed. Scatter some seed over scarified area and sprinkle a little top soil on top of the seed and keep it moist to help the germination.

            If GRASS GRUB has been a problem in the past, attack these pesky pests immediately. Many families of young grubs are silently underground eating the grass roots and it is not until the damage has already been done that we notice the destruction. If damage is already beginning to show sprinkle Soil Insect Killer over the lawn on a mild dewy night.

rake or scarify up old thatched grasses that tend to choke out a lot of lawn grass which is often the cause of a thin patchy lawn. Fill in the low areas with soil and tramp, rake, level and sow lawn seed. Scatter some seed over scarified area and sprinkle a little top soil on top of the seed and keep it moist to help the germination.

            If GRASS GRUB has been a problem in the past, attack these pesky pests immediately. Many families of young grubs are silently underground eating the grass roots and it is not until the damage has already been done that we notice the destruction. If damage is already beginning to show sprinkle Soil Insect Killer over the lawn on a mild dewy night.