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Autumn bulb planting

Preparing the garden for bulbs for next season’s flowering.

Just as true for planting bulbs as in real estate, the most important thing is position, position, position.  Not all bulbs are suitable for all regions, so the first objective is to select varieties suitable for your area and planting time. Bulbs take a longer time to establish and flower than seedlings, so they are often planted out a season before their flowering time. Choose where you are going to plant, full sun is the preferred position for most bulbs but always refer to the packet for full direction for your region.  As you get into the hotter regions then a light shade is tolerated.

Bulbs do not tolerate wet or boggy ground; well-drained soil is a must, or the bulbs can rot easily. A raised garden bed is an alternative or mound the garden bed to allow for maximum drainage if your soil is heavy.  Remove all weeds and turn over the soil to a depth of a shovel.  Dig into existing soil Searles Premium Compost Mix and turn it over until it is light and friable.  Prepare the beds a few weeks before planting, pulling out any weeds that sprout before planting. 

When you plant the bulbs, place a label or stake at each site to identify their position so they are not mistaken for weeds when they shoot.  A light covering of sugar cane mulch will suppress weeds and keep soil temperature even.  Do not be tempted to fertilise heavily until the plant has sprouted fully, keep to a gentle fertiliser such as Seamax Organic Fertiliser which will decrease plant stress and increase the plant’s establishment rate.

If the soil condition in your garden does not favour bulbs, then plant them in pots.  Do not plant them too close to the sides of the pot as the heat will radiate onto the bulb and may cause damage. Use a premium potting mix with good drainage and follow the guides on how deep to plant.  If the bulbs are planted too deep, they cannot reach the surface of the soil and will perish.  Planted not deep enough the plant becomes top heavy and may topple over.  Label the pot as to the bulb type and check if the bulbs need to be raised and stored in the off-season. 

Once the bulbs have started to shoot green leaves, then you can start to water. If you water when the bulb is still dormant it can cause rot. The soil is to be kept moist not wet and stop watering once the flower has finished and the leaves start to change colour and shrivel. One of the easiest bulbs to grow and plant in autumn is freesia, they grow in most parts of Australia and are usually a low care plant.  Bluebells and grape hyacinths also perform well and a great beginner bulbs, better still, they will keep reappearing each year.

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