Winter flowering bulbs
If you have been given winter flowering bulbs for Christmas or are growing your own to cheer up a dull January, here are a few tips to keep them tip-top.
Compost dries out quickly in centrally heated rooms so check twice a week. Water from the bottom by standing the pot in a tray of water for an hour and then drain the excess. This technique is especially useful for potted bulbs with moss laid over the compost.
You may need to provide support to keep them upright. Hyacinths have very heavy flower heads that usually lean outwards and the leaves of Narcissi quickly sprawl as they grow longer. Four thin flower-sticks around the bulbs with coloured string wound round make a decorative support.
Potted bulbs can be saved for next year but you need to apply a liquid fertiliser and let the leaves die off naturally so that the bulbs are built up again. Or plant them straight out into the garden, much deeper than they are in the pot. In a pot, forced for Christmas, bulbs are often planted right at the of the compost but in the garden they need to be much deeper. The general rule is to dig a hole three times the depth of the bulb so that there is twice the depth of soil on top once the hole is filled in. This makes it much less likely that the bulbs will dry out completely in summer and helps to keep them flowering for many years.
Happy Gardening, Alison
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