Blooming Bulbs Create Year Round Colour in Your Garden
Blooming Bulbs – Versatile storage plants
No enthusiastic gardener would ever seriously accuse blooming bulbs of being the ‘awkward squad’ of the garden; but when you come to think of it, that is precisely what they are. Most , whether grown from seed or as cuttings, need nurturing and feeding to bring them to their peak. But the fleshy onion-like substance of a bulb, folded in layers over the embryo in the centre, is its built-in store of sugar and starch, providing all the nutriment it needs.
Conversely, when the flowering period is over, the careful gardener will cut back the dying stems of ordinary herbaceous plants, partly for the sake of tidiness and partly to avoid the risk of diseasesettling on the fallen leaves and causing trouble for succeeding crops. Flower bulbs will stand no such arbitrary treatment. Those decaying leaves are returning their strength to the centre at their base from which will spring next year’s flower. Cut them down at your peril, for you immediately cut off the nourishment and your future display will suffer. If you get anything at all from the blooming bulb, it will almost certainly be a half-sized, ill-formed weakling, with all that means in terms of susceptibility to disease.
If you want blooming bulbs, which demand practically no work on your part (other than planting them in suitably prepared ground) to bring you a wonderful display, you have to pay in kind by putting up with bedraggled leaf stalks for some weeks while they retire from the scene at their own pace. If you must have a tidy border immediately, or want to fill the space they have occupied, the best thing you can do is to lift them gently and heel them in in a quiet but out-of-the-way spot to let them finish their life cycle in peace.
Many gardeners, trying to reconcile neatness with knowledge, tie the leaves into some kind of knot, or bend over the necks of their ripening onions. Except for making the ranks look a little less straggly, this does no good at all: unless the onions have dried right down they will only waste strength trying to return to the vertical. Tying the flower leaves in knots merely serves to strangle the fibres and impede the return flow of goodness to the base.
It may seem odd to start a post on blooming bulbs with a stricture on what you must not do to them when they have finished, but this after-treatment is the most important factor in growing them successfully. Dead-head them by all means – that is how the famous Spalding bulb parade and ‘battle of flowers’ festivals get the millions of blooms required for such gigantic and breath-taking displays. The plant must be prevented from wasting its strength forming seed, but at all costs let the leaves run down at their leisure.
Now that your blooming bulbs are guaranteed safe transit, as it were, let us see what they can do for you in return. They will offer you a wider scope of flower than any other type of plant. The spring-flowering bulbs will give you bloom indoors from Christmas or even earlier, or outside from January through till June. Then the summer blooming bulbs varieties will take over and carry your display through to the frosts, and there are a few sturdy stragglers that will attempt to complete the year for you. Apart from their versatility in filling bowls, tubs and window boxes – or even – they are highly adaptable for planting schemes in beds, borders, rockeries, interplanting with evergreens and other flowering shrubs and plants, for wild and woodland gardens, or for naturalizing in grass.
Nor is this all: they flower in all colours and at all heights. They will provide you with clouds of beauty to be admired en masse, or with huge individual blooms, like the amaryllis, that are best admired individually and at close range. All you need is the room to place them and the time to stop and stare as they unfold their beauty and, when that is finished, to treat them reverently!
Planting Blooming Bulbs
Discover which blooming bulbs to plant and when to plant them: