"planting spring bulbs" --- poison free organic gardening Victoria BC
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poison free gardening, Victoria BC, planting spring bulbs


Planting Spring Bulbs

perennial harbingers of spring
a drift of daffodils nodding in the spring sun

Somehow, and although not nearly as showy as the stately delphiniums, or as ravishingly beautiful as the bearded irises, the modest daffodils are by far my personal favorites among the spring bulbs.

Snow Drops

The earliest of the spring bulbs. In my native Germany they poked their little leaves and bell shaped blossoms right through the snow in late winter. I loved them for that. Great in bunches - which happens naturally - under flowering shrubs, hedges, in drifts under trees. They need humus-rich soil and moisture, which is no problem hereabouts, and are best divided, when necessary, right after blooming.


The first bright splash of a rainbow of colour in late winter and early spring. Best in full sun in bunches and drifts of the same colour, under trees, shrubs and along hedges and borders. Hardy and undemanding in well drained soil, they are best left alone, and divided only when necessary right after the leaves have died down.


My personal favourites, mostly because I spent the 10 best years of my life where there were drifts of daffodils all over the place. And this is still the best way of having daffodils. Perfectly hardy, carefree and undemanding in our climate, they are great under trees, under flowering shrubs, along hedges, around patios, in borders, and the miniatures are perfect in rock gardens. And they always look best in bunches - which happens naturally anyhow, as they readily multiply - and are at their very best in sweeping drifts where this is possible. They are also great in containers, and make excellent cut flowers. Lift and divide after leaves have died down, and only when necessary. Separate only those daughter bulbs which come off easily.


Tulips provide a March - May riot of colour and are also best in drifts, colonies, and bunches beside the patio or path. They need average soil and moisture in full sun, otherwise the stems will bend toward the light. Tulips are a considered a great delicacy by gophers, mice and aphids, so there are bound to be some losses, and our little wolf spiders are necessary to eliminate the aphids. Lift, divide and replant daughter bulbs after leaves have died down, and only when necessary due to crowding.


A rainbow of bright colours in tall, stately spikes, for late spring, early summer blossoms. Best at the back of beds, in front of wooden fences. Good and spectacular cut flowers. Need full sun in rich, fertile, and near neutral loam. Tall spikes need to be staked early. For best blossoms, remove all but 2 new shoots, and side dress with chicken manure. After blossoms have died, cut off flower spikes. After new shoots are several inches high, cut off old flower stalks at ground, and fertilize for good second bloom in late summer, early fall. Delphiniums are short lived, and most often treated just like annuals.

Bearded Irises

Even hardier and more undemanding than daffodils - and to the point of neglect - are the bearded Irises. We had loads of them in poor, hard clay soil, and to make it worse, under poplar trees which are famous for soaking up all moisture out of the ground all around them. Almost unbelievably, our bearded irises thrived even under these conditions.
Ravishingly beautiful blossoms in an infinite rainbow of colours except pure red and green only, the irises are also best in bunches and drifts, in full sun or light shade. Water only occasionally and when necessary. Excellent and spectacular cut flowers. After 3 or 4 years, clumps get crowded. Lift and divide rhizomes in fall, cutting away older woody centers, and trim roots and leaves to 6 inches. Let cut rhizomes heal for a day, then replant 12 inches apart, with fan of leaves facing into the desired direction of growth. Remove old and dead leaves in fall. Enjoy.

Plant throughout October, and all kinds benefit greatly from a table spoon of bone meal mixed into the ground under the bulb. Since planting depths vary greatly between kinds, follow the planting instructions given with the bulbs.


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