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 Growing your Garden Plants from bulbs.

Bulbs and corms for planters.

                
When planting out bulbs a good rule of thumb is that they should be planted  to a depth of two to three times their height. So larger bulbs will be planted deeper than the smaller ones. This means you can plant them in layers with the smaller bulbs over the top of the large. Each layer separated by soil. 
          When selecting your bulbs consider their size and colour. In general smaller bulbs will flower early in the spring with smaller blooms while the larger bulbs will flower later. When you buy your bulbs ensure that they free of mould, clean and have a firm feel to them. 
 
         For colour in the spring:  There is nothing that quite  matches the impact of flowering bulbs. Different species and cultivars  can be planted in the autumn, or grown  in planters to  be replaced continuously,  giving  a succession of displays  from February to May.
         In smaller  planters  and window  boxes it is easier to insert bulbs planted in pots. Because of the limited space  in such planters, it is also useful  to plant layers  of different  kinds of bulbs, both to blend in with the other planting  and also to have a succession of  flowers. For example,  tulips can be planted just below  the surface, with daffodils somewhat deeper.
Buying bulbs: When purchasing bulbs, always go to  a reputable source, even if this means paying slightly  more for good quality. Bulbs should be firm to the touch.
Planting  spring-flowering  bulbs:  Spring-flowering  bulbs are planted in  the autumn, as soon as possible after they have been purchased.
Preparation:  Soil preparation is  not too critical for the range  of bulbs that are likely to be the most useful in planter gardening. It  is always better, however,  to use "new compost", which must be free-draining, rather than compost  that has already  been used for growing  summer  bedding  plants. lf it is essential to use the same compost,  just remove the plants, break, up the soil with a small hand fork, and top up with new compost.  If the soil has become very dry, water thoroughly before  the bulbs are planted. Then allow the planter or winndow box to drain.
Planting: Set the bulbs firmly in the planters at the depths  indicated in the list below. Fill in with compost or bulb fibre. Then stand the planters  in a cold  green-house or frame, or out of doors  in a sheltered spot, and keep  the compost  moist.
 
Bulbs and corms for planters
              Crocus.  The spring-flowering crocuses associate well in planters with-large  permanent plants and look  particularly well with conifers; they are useful  as carpeting  plants or fillers. The Dutch  crocuses are probably  the best  for planters  as they have large, bold flowers growing  up to 10-13cm  in height. Cultivars, 'Jeanne d 'Arc', snow white; 'Remembrance, violet-purple; 'Vanguard',  pale lilac; 'yellow Mammoth',  golden yellow.
 
cream-beauty
               The free-flowering  cultivars  of Crocus  chrysanthus  and C. biflorus are also excellent  plants for planters  with smaller  but more numerous  flowers than the Dutch crocus. Cultivars: 'E.A. Bowles', deep yellow; Snow Bunting', white; 'Blue Pearl';  'Lady Killer, purple and white;  'Cream Beauty'.Crocus  sieberi, quite vigorous. has several forms, usually  pale mauve;  but a good white one is 'Bowles  White'. Flowers  in February. Plant  with the "nose" of the corm  just below the surface,  with the corms 5cm apart.  Mice and voles are rather  fond of crocus corms,  so cover the compost with small-meshed  chicken  netting. Fritillaria  imperalis (crown imperial ) A dramatic plant that flowers in April-May  and  is suitable for large planters as it grows up to 1,2m  high. There are red and yellow forms, and one with  orange flowers and white-variegated  foliage,  plant 15cm  deep and 23cm apart. Galanthus  (snowdrop).  This most popular  of all the spring-flowering bulbs  can be planted directly in a planter,  or pre-plant  in pots and then inserted  when flowering.  Ideally , they should be planted just before  the leaves  die  down; so long as good  quality, plump, dry bulbs are selected  they should flower  well if planted in the autumn. There are  many cultivars available,  including ones with double flowers,  but for general purposes ordinary  Galanthus  nivalis is as good as any. Plant snowdrops  5-10cm  deep and about 2.5cm apart.
white hyacinths
Hyacinthus (hyacinth): Rather formal when in flower, hyacinths  make  an early splash of colour and are most effective when planted in groups. Their  heavy perfume makes  them particularly attractive when planted near the house. Cultivars: 'Deft Blue' porcelain blue; Ostara,  deep blue; 'L'Innocence' white, 'Jan Bos', deep red, 'Lady Derby'  rose pink; 'Pink Pearl', deep  rose  pink; 'Gypsy Queen' salmon-orange; 'Yellow Hammer',  yellow. All grow to about 23cm high. Plant 10cm deep and 13cm apart.
Iris: There are many different kinds of iris' and several of the bulbous species  and cultivars are excellent for window boxes or planters . The  dainty Iris reticulata  flowers in February and March and has purple scented with golden  markings. 'Cantab' is pale blue with orange  markings. 'Harmony' is sky  blue with yellow markings. 'J. S Dijt'  is reddish-purple, 10-12,5cm high.  Plant about 7,5cm deep and 10cm apart. All  Dutch  irises are good, as are I. danfordiae (yellow) and  I. histrioides (light or deep blue).
 
Iris sibirica(Shirley pope)
Muscari(grape hyacinth): These  associate well with other bulbs especially daffodils and tulips  and in full sun or partial  shade their bright blue flowers can be very effective. M. armeniacum is very frequently grown, with each bulb sending up several flower spikes 15-20cm: 'Blue Spike', deep blue with white edge. Plant 7,5cm deep and 5cm apart.
Daffodils-in-a-planter
Narcissus(daffodil): Unless the planter is reasonably large, the shorter-growing daffodils will be best. Despite their upright growth daffodils can be effective in hanging baskets  but are rather vulnerable  to wind damage,  so need a sheltered spot. There are many hundreds  to choose from, in varied forms and heights, but all can be relied upon. Cultivars: 'Hawera',20cm, clear lemon yellow; 'Dove  Wings', 30cm, white, turned back petals, pale yellow trumpet;
February Gold  25cm clear yellow, long-lasting. February Silver; as February Gold but with white petals; 'Peeping  Tom',35cm deep yellow, long lasting; 'Tete a Tete' 15cm lemon yellow, two or more flowers on a stem, very early-flowering.
       Plant the smaller bulbs listed above 5-7,5cm deep, the larger ones 10cm deep 5-10cm apart.
 

Tulips

Tulipa-in-planters
 
 Tulipa  (tulip): This has  the widest  colour range of all the spring flowering bulbs, comes in varying heights and  flower forms, and can be relied upon to  make a dazzling display. By carefully choosing heights it is possible to obtain a double layer of colour. Tulips may also be interplanted with daffodils to give a succession of flowering.  Plant 10cm deep and 7,5-10cm apart. There are many cultivars to choose from within the various  types described  below:
Single early: These begin flowering in April on short, sturdy stems about 25cm high.
Double Early: Fully double  flowers, particularly suitable for window boxes and planters 25cm. Triumph: Flowering  mid-April on  taller, strong stems up to 45cm high.
 

Tulips-in-a-planter

Darwin hybrids: Late April to early May, with large rounded flowers on stems 60cm high.
Single late: May-flowering, similar to Darwin hybrids 60cm.
Double late: These flower in may and will give a long display in a sheltered position. Similar to the above, but with fully double flowers 60cm.
Lily-flowered: Graceful flowers with pointed petals and can grow to 60cm or higher and May flowering.
Kaufmanniana hybrids: Dwarf and early flowering. Can be left in situ to flower year after year and grows to 30cm in height. Greigii hybrids. Dwarf and April-flowering with strikingly mottled and striped foliage which is attractive in itself.
 
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