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Growing Guide

Planting Spring Flowering Bulbs

Autumn is the time to plant your spring flowering bulbs

Planting Spring Flowering Bulbs

Plan for your garden in spring. Autumn is the time to plant your spring flowering bulbs.

When to Plant

  • Plant spring-flowering bulbs, such as daffodils, freesias, bluebells, crocus, and hyacinths, preferably by the end of April.
  • Plant tulips in May.
  • Place tulip bulbs in paper bags and chill them in the fridge, away from vegetables, for 4-6 weeks before planting. This should also be done with other bulbs if you are in a warmer part of New Zealand.
  • Plant hardy summer-flowering bulbs, such as lilies, alliums and crocosmia, in April and May.

Check Your Bulbs are Healthy

  • Bulbs should be plump and undamaged.
  • Reject any that are mouldy or soft.

Where to Plant

  • Plant spring flowering bulbs in a sunny, well-draining location.
  • Planted under deciduous trees they will bloom before the trees are in leaf.
  • Plant bulbs in pots for spring colour on your deck or anywhere you want it.

How to Plant

  • Add good well-rotted compost to the areas where bulbs are to be planted.
  • Generally, dig holes to plant the bulbs about twice as deep as the bulb width but check the recommended depth on the label.
  • Bulbs must be planted the right way up; pointy end up, the basal plate that may have dried roots should be down.
  • Add fertiliser to the soil and mix before planting the bulb, cover and firm down.
  • Cover with mulch to keep weeds suppressed and conserve moisture.
  • Bulbs look best in mass plantings; plant them in groups spaced 10-15 cm apart, or closer in pots.

Bulb Plant Care

  • Bulbs do not need much care but keep weeds down around them.
  • Give them some potassium (K) fertiliser or potash to encourage flowering.
  • But do not add too much nitrogen (N) which would encourage leaf growth at the expense of flowers.
  • Water if required when they start to emerge.
  • Dead head spent flowers regularly.
  • At the end of the flowering season leave the foliage to die down completely so the bulb can gather energy and prepare for next year.
  • Hyacinths and tulip bulbs are best dug out and stored in a cool dry place for re-planting next autumn.

Daffodils can be left to naturalise in the ground for about 4 years before they become too crowded. If this happens, dig them out in summer dormancy, split them, store them in a cool dry place and plant again in autumn.

06 May 2021