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Autumn crocus

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Garden Beds and gate
  Page 9
Planting and tending your garden bulbs.

Autumn-flowering bulbs.

Buried stores of energy.
  • Bulbs: which plants like daffodils grow from, are made up of fleshy leaf bases.
  • Corms: from plants such as cyclamen, are swollen stems with buds at the top.
  • Rhizomes: are fat stems that creep horizontally, such as those of irises.
  • Tubers: are thickened roots, found in plants like dahlias.

  • Autumn crocus:  Plant around the base of shrubs and at the bottom of slopes. They will then peep through grass or other foliage and make room for themselves between clumps of perennials. The flowers will appear before the leaves, which follow in early spring.
Crocosmia blooms
  • Crocosmia: Easily grown and excellent as cut flowers, these liven up herbaceous borders from July to September. Plant them in a warm sunny site, in well-drained sandy soil. They are hardy  in all but the coldest areas,  where lifting and storing  may be necessary in October.
  • Kaffir lily:  In full sun or half shade, the lily will produce fiery red, pink or white flowers that will still be in full bloom in November. It requires cool soil in summer and should be divided in April.
Kaffir lily
Belladonna lilies
  • Belladonna lilies:  If planted against a south-facing wall and given frost protection, Amaryllis belladonna produces numerous fragrant trumpets in late summer.  These are usually pink or, in the case of some hybrids, white. The leaves follow shortly after the flowers have faded and last throughout the winter.
Deadheading dahlias:  Remove the dead flowers from plants such as dahlias, crinum and amaryllis and they will grow back even more vigorously.  When deadheading dahlias, cut off the flower and its stem just above the first pair of leaves. In the case of plants that bear flowers at the top of a floral spike, such as gladioli, remove individual flowers as they die by pinching them off at the stem beneath the flower. Cut the spike off at its base when all the flowers have died.
Tender or half-hardy plants:  Gardeners who live in milder regions may be able to leave dahlias in the ground once they have finished flowering. However, in most areas, the tubers must be lifted and stored in a dry, dark and frost-free room, garage or cellar, because the fleshy roots are very sensitive to moisture in winter. Other bulbs such as freesia will also not survive a very wet or frosty winter in the ground.
How deep should you plant?: Planting  depths  given on packets or in books relate to the depth of the soil between  the tip of the bulb and the soil surface,  not to the depth of the hole. As a general rule of thumb, bulbs should be planted at a depth equal to at least twice their height. However, if your soil is very light, then plant them at a depth equal to three times their height.
  • Gauge the correct depth at a glance by using a trowel that you have marked with graduated measurements.
Bulb being  planted
Divide and multiply
New bulbs for free:  If a clump of bulbs becomes very congested, gently uproot it after flowering and divide it. This will give the mother bulb a new lease of life and generate a flush of new shoots.  Shake the soil off gently and remove the young bulbs. These offsets should come away from the original bulb easily. If they don't, it is because they are not yet mature - in which case don't force them or you may end up damaging the plant. Replant the mother plant and its offshoots immediately.
Another method of multiplication:  Some varieties of allium and lily, such as 'Enchantment', produce bulbils that appear on stems or in leaf axils in the summer.  Carefully remove them, dust with flowers of sulphur and put in a plastic bag with damp moss. Keep them cool but frost-free.  In the spring, plant them in small pots filled with multipurpose compost, and place them in a sheltered spot in half shade.
  • Wait a year before replanting: them in the garden and they will flower better.
  • Gladioli, crocus and crocosmia also produce offsets around their corm.  Remove these and replant in a small box kept somewhere cool and sheltered. Water in spring, then put the young plants in the ground. Crocus corms will flower the following year whereas gladioli take two to three years.
Be gentle with young plants:  Use a dibber or small bamboo cane to set your new plants into a box of fresh compost or directly into the garden.  The roots are fragile and the aerial shoots are easily broken if you are too heavy-handed, but a dibber will make holes of the right size, into which you can easily insert the plants, firming lightly to remove air pockets.

Cyclamen  flowers
   These beautiful bulbs are easily naturalised in most settings and will form a magnificent carpet of flowers under the foliage of trees.

Mini Index
 Skips pages. Gets you to a general area.
Garden Bulbs.
Lillies& Alliums.
Flowers until Frost.
Annuals For Summer.
Borders Full of Colour.
 Collecting Seeds.
Foliage Plants.
Garden Gate and flower borders
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