The beauty of bulbs
The beauty of bulbs – Bulbs – what a great idea. A plant that holds all its own energy in its own built-in storage system. Not only do they hold all their own energy for their entire life, but they also come back year after year (mostly). So long as you remember not to dig them up! Most bulbs are hardy enough to be left in the ground all year (please check) – or if you prefer, they can be moved to pots or an ambient green-house.
Flavours or types
They come in two distinct flavours – spring-blooming and summer-blooming which, not surprisingly bloom in spring and summer. Spring-blooming bulbs like tulips and daffodils can be planted as I’m writing this – in September and October. Alternatively, its best to plant summer-blooming bulbs in the spring. The thing to avoid is frost. Summer-blooming bulbs do not like cold winters.
How to plant bulbs
Depth is always a question – how deep is too deep? How shallow is too shallow to plant bulbs? Deep enough to avoid frost and being found by squirrels; shallow enough to avoid bulb rot and late flowering. There is a rule of thumb – plant to 2-3 times the vertical diameter of the bulb – slightly complicated but just about clear, I hope. Of course, there are exceptions. Some varieties of Iris like shallow planting, tulips like to go much deeper. If you are feeling particularly creative, you can plant several layers. Put a couple of inches of soil between layers and try to avoid planting one bulb directly over another.
There are such things as true bulbs which are also known as tunicate or imbricate bulbs and these are things like daffodils, tulips, alliums, hyacinth and iris. You can open a lively debate with serious gardeners – I do not count myself as a serious gardener – over whether plants with tubers or rhizomes should be considered as bulbs as well. My own view, no.
Bulbs not only have their own energy, they also know which way is up. Whilst it is always preferable to plant a bulb point upwards a bulb will know and they can sort themselves out if you get it wrong. As a second rule of thumb work on the basis of one flower per bulb but with luck you will get more than that but that is why it makes sense to plant bulbs together rather than singly. It will make for a better display come spring.