Bulbs, How To, Jorge, Planting, Plants

To plant bulbs successfully, it’s important to plant at the right time and depth with the bulb the right way up. You can ensure showstopper blooms by fertilising when planting, and as long as there is vegetative growth in the growing season. Applying mulch in winter will help protect spring-flowering bulbs from frost injury. 

When To Plant

If ordering online, plant as soon as you receive the bulb, or store in a dry, dark location if you can’t plant immediately. Leave a bulb unplanted and it may fail to flower or flower poorly. If you forget to plant, examine by touch, and discard soft or rotten bulbs. Others are worth a shot. 

Generally, spring flowering bulbs need to be planted by the end of September, which will allow time for the bulb to root before the ground freezes. Tulips are planted in October and November, depending on whether you are in the North or South respectively, which helps reduce problems with disease. 

Hardy summer flowering bulbs are to be planted in September and October, while tender summer flowering bulbs in early spring. Autumn flowering bulbs need to be planted by late summer. 

BulbSeasonPlanting depthPlanting distance between bulbsPosition
AlliumAutumn10cm (4″)10cm (4″)Full sun
BegoniaSpring1cm (1/2″)30cm (12″)Full sun, semi shade, dappled shade
CrocusAutumn10cm (4″)7cm (3″)Full sun, semi shade
DaffodilAutumn10cm (4″)10cm (4″)Full sun, semi shade
DahliaSpring15cm (6″)45cm (18″)Full sun
BluebellSpring/Autumn10cm (4″)10cm (4″)Dappled shade
GladiolusSpring10cm (4″)15cm (6″)Full sun
HyacinthAutumn10cm (4″)8cm (3″)Full sun, semi shade
Iris reticulataAutumn10cm (4″)8cm (3″)Full sun
LilyAutumn20cm (8″)15cm (6″)Full sun, semi shade
NarcissusAutumn10cm (4″)10cm (4″)Full sun, semi shade
PonerorchisSpring2.5cm (1″)7cm (3″)Dappled shade
RanunculusAutumn8cm (3″)25cm (10″)Full sun
SnowdropSpring/Autumn10cm (4″)10cm (4″)Dappled shade
Tree LilyAutumn20cm (8″)15cm (6″)Full sun, semi shade
TulipAutumn15cm (6″)13cm (5″)Full sun
White Egret OrchidSpring2.5cm (1″)7cm (3″)Dappled shade
Winter AconiteAutumn5cm (2″)5cm (2″)Full sun, semi shade, dappled shade

Position 

As always it’s best to look at a species habitat and flowering time when deciding where to plant. Early spring bulbs such as snowdrops are used to harsh conditions, and will thrive in cold pockets. Forest dwelling species such as the bluebell are used to dappled shade, and will thrive under any deciduous tree. More exotic species such as dahlia, originating from Mexico, are suited to full sun. 

It’s not the end of the world if you plant in a sub-optimal location as bulbs are a storage organ and the plant already has a large reserve of energy. Bulbs rarely thrive in deep shade and output will be poor in the second year after planting. 

It’s possible that southern exposure can lead to early emergence and freezing injury. You can moderate temperature extremes by applying 3 inches of mulch after the first frost. This will help prevent injury from the constant cycle of frost and thaw. Remove the mulch if you think the shoots can’t penetrate it easily. 

Mulch will help protect bulbs from frost injury.

Soil Type

The key message is to avoid waterlogged soils, which can starve a bulb of oxygen, causing them to rot. Clay soils usually have poor drainage, and can be improved by adding organic mulch. Ensure you don’t compact the soil, but firm with the back of a rake. 

Right-side Up 

Most bulbs have a tip, which should be pointing upwards when planted. Some will arrive with roots on the bottom, opposite to the tip. Begonia bulbs do not have a sharp point, but you can sometimes detect the tip emerging out of the concave (indented) side.

Planting Depth & Distance

A general rule of thumb is that bulbs can be planted three times their height, although begonias are an exception to this. 

Bulbs in containers can be spaced a bulb width apart. In the ground, 2-4 inches is common for small and 8 inches for large bulbs. 

Apply phosphorus when planting as it doesn’t travel well in the soil. This essential nutrient helps with root growth. 

Aftercare

Water immediately after planting, unless you are planting in autumn and the ground is already wet. 

Sometimes, small mammals will dig up bulbs, but this can be prevented with wire mesh. 

Plants in containers are vulnerable to drought and under fertilisation, so water and feed regularly once the growing season starts. 

As nutrients are absorbed through roots, it’s important nutrients reach the depth the roots are located. Liquid fertiliser will penetrate the soil, and can remedy deficiencies quickly, but is liable to leeching. Other inorganic fertilisers will fertilise the soil over time, so need to be applied in advance. Organic fertiliser takes far longer as it’s insoluble and first needs to be broken down by microorganisms, before becoming available for uptake by plants. 

Removing seed pods, but maintaining foliage, allows a plant to put more energy into its bulb, for larger blooms thereafter. Watering and feeding will help with this. Remove foliage once it yellows. 

After this, bulbs can be lifted, sorted, washed, left to dry and then stored in a cool, dry, airy place. Small, rotten or diseased bulbs are best thrown. 

Jorge at PrimroseJorge works in the Primrose marketing team. He is an avid reader, although struggles to stick to one topic!

His ideal afternoon would involve a long walk, before settling down for scones.

Jorge is a journeyman gardener with experience in growing crops.

See all of Jorge’s posts.

How To, Mandy, Planting, Plants

Bamboo can do well in containers, even some of the more vigorous, running types, although the slower-spreading clumpers are the best choices.

It’s important to remember your chosen variety will only get as tall as the pot’s size will let it – a a good guide is about 50% to 75% of its maximum height in open ground.

It will also be less hardy but as most cultivars are very hardy, this shouldn’t pose a problem in the UK.

Caring For Bamboo In Pots

It will also require much more watering in the summer – as much as once a day during extreme heat, usually every 2-3 days.

Bamboo needs feeding most in summer when it is producing new stems. As bamboo is a grass, it requires a high-nitrogen feed, (10 per cent or more) – a controlled-release fertiliser will save you time, applying it in spring.

Bamboo will need to be divided or transplanted regularly to stop it from becoming root-bound. With clumpers, you can leave them a maximum of six years in a large 50-55cm container; runners will need to be divided every three-five years. This is a difficult job, as the pots are heavy and the plant bulky – get friends to help!

Planting In Pots

When it comes to container size, the bigger the better. If you want planter boxes, 46cmx46cmx46cm is the smallest to use for permanent use. Bamboo can fill whatever space it is given; a long, narrow planter, will produce a long, narrow screen, of moderate height.

Use well draining high-quality potting soil and make sure the pot has good drainage holes.

Bamboo can be grown in smaller pots but will need to be repotted every year. Don’t use tall, top-heavy or blow vase-shaped containers, as bamboo blows over easily.

Metal troughs alone are not a good idea, as the roots bake in summer and freeze in winter. Line it with bamboo barrier fabric or old carpet to act as insulation and drill extra drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.

Best Bamboo Varieties For Containers

Avoid large runners; smaller runners will grow better in containers and clumpers can do very well but need partial shade. Good runners include Pseudosasa japonica, Phyllostachys aureosulcata, P. nigra, and P. aurea will produce interesting, compact nodes at the base.

For clumping bamboo, most Fargesia will make a good display, with a fountain-shaped plume of foliage.

Groundcover varieties like Sasa make short, bushy container accents. Fargesia and Sasa varieties will need afternoon shade, or the leaves will burn.

Mandy at PrimroseMandy Watson is a freelance journalist who runs www.mandycanudigit.com.

A plantaholic with roots firmly planted in working-class NE England, she aims to make gardening more accessible to the often excluded – the less able, the hard-up or beginners.

Advocate of gardening for better mental health.

See all of Mandy’s posts.

How To, Jorge, Planting, Plants, Trees

Cherry Tree Blossom

Cherry blossom trees are perfectly adapted to the UK’s climate and will flourish in your garden. As cherry trees can be quite large, it is important is to choose a location large enough to accommodate the variety you choose. The most important message to take home is the need to regularly water young trees, especially in the months after planting.

Location, Location, Location

Be sure to check the eventual height and spread of your tree before deciding on a suitable location. Cherry trees can be very large. Prunus ‘Kanzan’, for example, can grow to above 10m tall.

Cherry trees benefit from full sun, but will suffice in shady locations.

Planting in a sheltered location is recommended to prevent uprooting in strong winds. Avoid waterlogged soils.

Planting near a building should be fine, but the distance away should be based on a tree’s spread. Most cherries are grafted onto rootstocks, which ensures the roots are weak and are unable to damage foundations.

If you are worried your tree will be too large for your garden, you can always plant in a large pot (40-60cm+ depending on the variety) which will constrain a tree’s growth.

Water, Water, Water

The message we wish most to convey to your customers is the need to water your tree regularly and thoroughly in the months after planting. This will help your tree recover from the effects of transplant shock in which a tree loses much of its water absorbing capacity.

Planting Your Tree

Follow steps A for containerised trees and steps B for bare root trees.

  1. Ensure your tree is hydrated before planting.
    1. Give the rootball a good watering. Free up any spiralised roots.
    2. Leave your tree’s roots to soak in water for half an hour. Pruning woody roots back a few inches can help stimulate the growth of new water-absorbing roots.
  2. Dig a square hole three times the radius of the rootball, but only a few inches deeper than the rootball. Loosen any compact soil around the sides.
  3. Place your tree in the hole. Ensure the graft point is above the soil. The highest roots should be no more than an inch below the ground. (Containerised trees roughly level.)
  4. Fill your hole with a mix of garden soil and compost. Do not compress the soil!
  5. Plant a stake with the stake facing away from the prevailing wind.
  6. Give your tree a good watering.
  7. Add a layer of mulch. Mulch helps improve moisture levels. Ensure the mulch doesn’t touch the base of the tree.
  8. Depending on your location, a rabbit guard can be useful as hungry rabbits will nibble on bark come winter.
    1. Cutting back branches will produce a better balance between the root system and top growth, ensuring your tree does not rock in the wind. Cut the central stem back up to a third and branches by half, snipping right above buds.

Jorge at PrimroseJorge works in the Primrose marketing team. He is an avid reader, although struggles to stick to one topic!

His ideal afternoon would involve a long walk, before settling down for scones.

Jorge is a journeyman gardener with experience in growing crops.

See all of Jorge’s posts.

Indoor Plants, Lotti, Planting, Plants

how choose houseplant

Houseplants are a great way to add colour and life to your home, especially during the winter. We’ve touched on some of the benefits of houseplants before, so it might not come as a surprise to learn that keeping plants indoors is great for both your mental and physical health! Houseplants help to improve the quality of the air in your home and some studies show that they reduce stress levels and even increase productivity. Making the decision to buy a houseplant can, however, be a daunting task: especially if (like me) you have trouble keeping them alive! We’ve put together a handy guide on choosing the right houseplant for you so you can have all of the benefits with none of the stress.

Choosing a Houseplant

Choosing the perfect houseplant for your home can often feel a little overwhelming. There’s a lot of factors you need to consider when choosing a plant: how much light it needs, how much watering and how much space you’ve got. The best advice to follow if you’re new to house plants (or not feeling very confident) is to pick a hardy plant which doesn’t need a lot of looking after. The two most important factors you need to take into account when buying a plant is space and lighting.

succulents

Space

Even the tiniest apartment can benefit from a selection of houseplants. If you’ve not got a lot of floor space, trailing plants like String of Pearls (Senecio Rowleyanus) or Hearts on a String (Ceropegia Woodii) are great for placing on a high shelf or hanging from the ceiling. Desks, workspaces and nightstands can benefit from small potted plants, and succulents or cacti are easy to care for and as well as being compact. Air Plants are also becoming more common: these miniature plants are fairly easy to keep alive and they don’t need soil, great for avoiding mess and saving space! Lucky Bamboo can be picked up in most garden centres fairly cheaply, and while it can grow to 3ft it can be easily maintained with regular trimming.

If you’re after a splash of colour, Polka Dot Plants and Flowering Kalanchoe come with vibrant leaves and blooms. You can also make the most of your space by investing in a window box for sun-loving plants. Houseplants don’t need to be purely decorative: you could also grow herbs, great for saving money and making tasty meals.

Light

A tricky hurdle when choosing houseplants can be figuring out how much light your home gets. If you’re looking for plants for your home or office, you’ll probably need to find plants that thrive in low light or artificial light. While all plants need light to photosynthesise and grow, there’s still lots of plants on the market which are great for homes with low lighting levels or offices and workplaces with artificial light.

Aglaonemas are a hardy, leafy plant that copes well with low light. These plants can also grow quite large – great for filling a lot of floor space if you only want to buy one or two house plants. Devil’s Ivy, so-called because it can grow almost anywhere, will also thrive in the shade and is small enough to fit on a shelf or desk. If you’re after a plant that’s super-hardy and easy to grow, then Spider Plants are great for window sills and mantelpieces. If you’re looking for a way to brighten up your space at work, Bromeliads can survive on fluorescent light alone.

potted succulents

Non-Toxic Plants

A big concern for households with pets or babies is toxicity. There’s lots of pet-safe plants on the market, and it’s a good idea to look up a plant before you buy it to double check if it’s safe for your family. There are a number of household and garden plants and flowers which are harmful to cats, so it’s good to check before introducing any if you’ve got cats or kittens.

To save having to google every plant that piques your interest (only to find that it’s not safe for Fluffy), we’ve put together a list of indoor plants that are both non-toxic and easy to care for:

  • Spider plant – also known as chlorophytum comosum, Spider plants are a great choice for novice gardeners thanks to their bouncebackability.
  • Chinese money plant – chinese money plants are easy to care for and requires less watering than many other houseplants. They’re also said to bring wealth if you plant a coin in the soil!
  • Kenita Palm – a large palm great for growing indoors thanks to being super durable. When grown indoors, Kenita palms can grow up to 12 feet tall!
  • Bromeliad – a colourful, trumpet-shaped plant that’s great for growing on a windowsill or mantelpiece. Bromeliads are non-toxic and can be found in most garden centres.
  • Donkey’s Tail – also known as Sedum Morganianum, Donkey’s Tail is a small but hardy succulent that thrives best in a sunny spot, great for desks or bedside tables. It can also be hung from a hanging basket.

hanging pot

Hardy Plants

If you’re more worried about practicality than aesthetics, then simply buying the hardiest plant you can get your hands on might be the right direction for you. By investing in an easy, durable plant you can get used to sticking to a watering routine and gain more confidence before moving on to plants that are more impressive – but also more difficult to keep alive. Here’s a list of some of the hardiest plants that we’ve found that are great for first-time indoor gardeners.

  • Aloe Vera – as practical as it is tough, the gel inside the aloe’s succulent leaves is great for treating burns.
  • Zanzibar Gem – also known as ZZ Plants, Zanzibar Gems are incredibly hardy and make an impressive statement in your home. Be warned, though: these plants are toxic to humans and animals so aren’t suitable for houses with pets or young children.
  • Snake Plant – this spikey plant is also called “Mother-in-Law’s tongue” due to its sharp shape. This plant needs little watering and grows very tall, great for adding colour to small spaces.
  • Peace Lily – a popular houseplant, Peace Lilies are easy to care for and fairly low maintenance. They come in a lot of sizes, too, so they’re great for small and large homes alike.
  • Devil’s Ivy – also known as Scindapsus, this trailing plant is great for hanging from a ceiling or placing on a tall shelf where it’s heart-shaped leaves can cascade down.

Jenny at PrimroseLotti works with the Primrose Product Loading team, creating product descriptions and newsletter headers.

When not writing, Lotti enjoys watching (and over-analyzing) indie movies with a pint from the local craft brewery or cosplaying at London Comic Con.

Lotti is learning to roller skate, with limited success.

See all of Lotti’s posts.