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Seeds & Bulbs - What You Need to Know

'Ground Work'

Before planting any seeds or bulbs you must make sure you prepare the soil well for the best possible results. Incorporate a lot of compost, mulch or fertiliser and remove any weeds before planting. Bulbs grown in pots need good drainage, it would be wise to use compost that drains well instead of peat moss or other soil which can become hydrophobic and initially repel water. The pots you choose must also drain well. Specialised bulb composts tend to be expensive and are only really necessary in pots with poor drainage.

Size Matters

Observe and check bulbs as much as possible when you are buying them. Big and firm are the best choices. Look out for any mould and bulbs which are small because they may not flower in their first year. If you plan to plant spring flowering bulbs: October is the best time for daffodils and November is the best for tulips.

Planting

Bulbs should ideally be planted in holes about 3 or 4 times as deep as the bulb. If you are unsure of which way up to plant the bulb, then plant it on its side as the stem will find its own way up. The Spear & Jackson Bulb Planter Stainless Steel is a tool that is useful for removing soil neatly before planting a seed and placing the soil back again. It is easy to use and convenient. Give it a try!

'The Furry Foe'

Squirrels, particularly in urban gardens are the biggest destroyer of bulbs. They do dig up daffodils, but they don’t eat them. Instead they have an appetite for crocus and tulips. The most effective precaution against this would be to plant the bulbs deeper than normal, as they are most vulnerable when they have first been planted because the soil is easy for the squirrels to dig. Using chicken wire over and around the freshly dug soil will also deter squirrels. 

Hyacinths

For great hyacinth results, try the Hyacinths Bedding Mix 6 bulbs per pack. The third week of September is the traditional time to force hyacinths into flower – to ensure they are ready in time for Christmas. This is the case for specially prepared bulbs. More generally, you should consider forcing bulbs throughout January and February instead. If kept in a cool, dark room or under a cardboard box, Hyacinths will flower 10-12 weeks from potting. Narcissi Paperwhite Grandiflora Bulbs 5pk flower 8-10 weeks from potting and don’t need to be kept in the dark. 

Tulips

The dry conditions at the base of hedges provide the ideal growing environment for tulips. Bulbs placed here can be left undisturbed for years and grow well. Encourage carpets of Anemone Blanda Mix 20 per pack on the shady side of the hedge for good ground cover. Traditional partners for tulips in pots and window boxes are violas, as they will start flowering long before the tulips, providing a wide range of colour combinations.

As bulbs are the cheapest plants available, they’re the best option if you wish to populate your garden of a particular area. Massed planting of a limited number of varieties is highly effective.