With the season slowly winding down, it’s time to start planning the next chapter of your garden. Plant flowering bulbs from late March onward, to enjoy a beautiful spring display.

Nothing beats the joy of a spring garden filled with beautiful flowering bulbs. From soft butter-yellow daffodils to bright irises and ranunculi, these beauties are the epitome of spring’s bounty.

When it comes to bulbs, it’s important to plan ahead. To ensure you enjoy flushes of colourful bulbs in spring, you have to start planting soon. While your garden sheds its leaves and you put on your winter coat, bulbs spend the chilly season putting out roots, waiting for the first signs of spring.

Where to buy

From middle-March onward, you can find a range of bulbs at garden centres.

Choose from: Daffodils, tulips, ranunculi, anemones, grape hyacinths, irises, freesias.

Local beauties: South Africa has an impressive selection of indigenous bulbs, such as sparaxis, babianas and ixias, so keep an eye out for these at indigenous nurseries, or order online.

Where to plant

Plant your bulbs according to their sun requirements. Ixias, ornithogalums and ranunculi do well in full sun.

Alliums, freesias and snowflakes need a shady spot, but can take a few hours of early-morning or afternoon sun.

Bulbs that need protection from the hot midday sun include hyacinths, anemones, tulips, narcissus, daffodils, muscari, lachenalias, Dutch irises and tritonias. (Hold on to your tulips and store them in a cool place, as they need to be planted in May.)

How to plant

Different bulb species need to be planted at different depths and spaced differently, so read the planting instructions carefully.

Preparation is essential. Before planting, dig the bed over to about the depth of a spade and add a generous amount of compost – bulbs do best in cool, well-drained soil. Don’t use fresh manure, as this may burn the bulbs.

Trade secret: As a general rule of thumb, bulbs need to be planted at a depth of three times the actual height of the bulb.

Caring for your bulbs

Feed throughout the growing season and after flowering with 3:1:5 Vita Flower or Hadeco 2:1:1 Bulb Food.

The roots need to be kept moist all the time, ideally with a sprinkler for about 45 minutes every four to five days. Keep an eye on bulbs planted in pots; the soil dries more quickly, so you might need to water them more often.

With thanks to Life is a Garden.

Images: HJ Steed