Florence’s Florals: Spring Bulbs

This Tuesday, it’s Florence’s florals, our monthly column by Becky Hay of Blossom with a post that is guaranteed to brighten up this cold January day…

A little late in the month, but Happy New Year to you all. Today I’d like to help you all brighten up a dark January day with the promise of what’s just around the corner… Spring.

Spring bulb flowers such as Hyacinth and Narcissi look good, smell divine, flower for twice as long as a cut flower if they’re left on the bulb, and are extremely wallet friendly. They’re also fat free, perfect for January!

If you have only two pennies, spend the first on bread and the other on hyacinths for your soul.

–Arab Proverb

In October, Rebecca wrote a post on planting bulbs outdoors. If like me however, you’re not one for planning ahead, here’s how to bring bulbs into your home right now.

Pot grown bulbs:
Pots of growing bulbs in compost are currently available to buy from all good florists, garden centres and large supermarkets. The most commonly available are Hyacinths, in pots of 3 bulbs, usually in blue, pink, lilac or white. Other favourites are Narcissi (mini daffodils), Muscari (grape hyacinths), Crocus, Snowdrops, and mini Iris.

You can leave the bulbs you’ve bought in the plastic pot and just pop that directly into a container at home for display. Teapots, mixing bowls, vases, mugs, and jugs are all good shapes.

Alternatively, you can take the bulbs out of the plastic pots and break them up to fit them into smaller receptacles. The bulbs are really tough so don’t worry about tearing the roots apart to squeeze them in.

I like to cover the top of the bulbs with moss. This is available from good florists or for free from the woodlands (if you’re prepared to take a scraper and a carrier bag out on a walk with you)

Turn the container regularly so that the light gets to all sides of the bulbs. This also stops them growing at funny angles. The warmer your house, the faster they will grow. A drizzle of water now and then will be sufficient. Don’t leave them sitting in a boggy pool of compost.

Troubleshooting:
Once Hyacinths are in full flower, they can become top heavy and start drooping. Rather than using ugly cane supports to tie the stems up, collect some broken twiggy branches which look much more natural and will support the stems just as well, (see above). They also add interest when the bulbs aren’t in flower. Alternatively, cut the flowering stems off and pop them in a little vase of water to enjoy their last few days.

Some people can find the scent of hyacinths overpowering, the blue ones have the strongest smell while the white are a little less heady.

Aftercare:
All bulbs can be planted out in the garden once you’ve finished enjoying them inside. Narcissi are the hardiest and are likely top flower again year on year. Hyacinths never flower as well second time round so don’t feel too guilty about putting them in the compost bin.

Tips for enjoying cut spring flowers:
Nothing beats a simple jug of daffodils. Rather than mixing them with anything else, just pop a few twigs amongst them to break up the solid mass of yellow.

If you buy cut hyacinths, avoid cutting the stems as you would with other flowers. This is because hyacinths usually have the cleaned bulb still attached and this will help the flowers last longer in the water.

Change the vase water regularly. Spring bulb flowers leak sap into the water which encourages bacteria to grow rapidly, reducing the vase life of the flowers.
Tulips continue to grow even after they’ve been cut. This is why after a day or two in a vase, they start to droop. When this happens, wrap the tulips up tightly in a piece of newspaper and re-cut the stems at an angle. Pop them into a vase of clean cold water and let them drink for a couple of hours whilst wrapped up. They should stand upright again when they’re unwrapped.

I hope this inspires you all to get a little Spring in your lives this weekend. It’s amazing what a tiny splash of nature can do.

Becky x

The Bulb Diary

Ok, so, first things first, this mornings post isn’t going to be everybody reading’s cup of tea. If I’m honest, (and a few people will attest to this after I bent their ears!) my biggest fear with Florence Finds was that it’s diversity would be it’s downfall. I worried that fashionable types might not be interested in (or indeed lucky enough to have) a garden, or that DIY queens and interiors fanatics may not want to hear about make-up.

Actually I should be ashamed of myself for stereotyping women… I am this diverse, why shouldn’t the rest of you be?

So before we get started, this is a plea, if ever you don’t really fancy something I’ve posted, it’s only a few hours away from being something new and I will always try to vary the content, so please come back!

This post was inspired by 2 things. Firstly, my friend Jess bought some spring bulbs recently to plant in her new garden and amongst them were some tulips, which she planned to plant immediately. This was the end of September and it occurred to me that perhaps not everybody knew that Tulips are in fact planted in November. Secondly, the lovely Eliza Claire specifically requested some gardening tips, as have a few others of you and this is seasonal, so lets get started.

The first thing you need to know is that (although I’m about to tell you something to the contrary,) gardening is not science and should just be about enjoying your efforts. So if you buy various bulbs and just bung them in whenever, they will grow, do not fear! You might get a few popping up at unexpected times but come the next spring they will have reset themselves and be just fine.

However, if you’re going to go to all that trouble, this post is to help you get the best out of them. Planting things when they should be planted and the proper way, gives them the best start possible and you the prettiest flowers announcing the arrival of spring. Like I said, there are no rules, so just consider these ‘tips’. 🙂

Tip Number 1.
Most bulbs you buy will have instructions but when you get around to planting your bulbs, the way you do it is quite important… possibly the most important thing. As a rough rule of thumb, each bulb should be planted at double to three times their own depth. So small bulbs like crocuses or snowdrops don’t need to go in so deep, and bigger ones like daffodils and tulips need quite a bit more depth.

If you plant them too shallowly they will come up early and won’t get their roots in to stop them blowing over in spring gales and too deep and they won’t be reach out of the soil, but there’s less danger of that.

Tip Number 2.
Plant them the right way up! Most bulbs are quite obvious in their shape… look at the bulb and you’ll see they have a ‘pointier’ end (you might even be able to see remnants of the dried up leaves or new shoots poking through) and a flatter end (again where you will possibly see dried roots.) It’s easy, plant them nose up or they will have great difficulty reaching the surface. If you’re really not sure which is up and down, go sideways and they should still come up!

Tip Number 3.
Plant them at the right time… here’s a rough guide, think about the time of year they flower and count backwards. Early flowering bulbs like snowdrops and crocus need to go in earlier and tulips later, which can flower right into may and June.
September-October = Snowdrops, Crocus, Hyacinths
November-December = Tulips
Daffodils can go in as early as August/September (I know, I’m a little late writing this, but bung them in anyway!)

Lastly… Dig the right hole. Dig a wide hole and plant several bulbs at once to create ‘drifts’ of colour. To get them looking really natural plant in groups of odd numbers and plant them where they fall when you drop a handful rather than spacing them equally. Make sure the bottom of the bulb is in contact with the soil rather than wedged down a hole with an air bubble beneath, and water them in after putting the soil back, taking care not to knock them over.

So that’s it. An idiots guide to planting bulbs and growing your own beautiful spring display. And if you don’t have a garden, try it in pots, you can even grown them indoors 🙂

Are you working on your green fingers?

Love,
Rebecca.
xo

Image Credits R-L from top: (All found via Pinterest)
Snowdrops in Vase and Hyacinths in tin cans;
Grape Hyacinth mood board and Hyacinth bulbs;
Crocus Bulbs;
Crocus teacup and Rustic Table setting;
White Tulips

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