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The Butchart Chronicles : September 15, 2016

At Home Planting Tips for Spring Flowering Bulbs

Learn a few planting tips for Spring flowering bulbs from the Greenhouse Manager at The Butchart Gardens.

Jennie Butchart Tulips
Autumn is a busy time for us at The Gardens. Our beds of summer colour will soon be replaced with hundreds of thousands of Spring flowering bulbs and biennials. We are not the only busy ones; many avid gardeners around Greater Victoria and beyond are on the same schedule.

As you visit nurseries and garden centres to begin preparing your garden for the season(s) to come, you will see Spring flowering bulbs being sold starting in early September. When purchasing your bulbs, ensure that you select bulbs that are not dry and withered or too soft or moldy.

The best time to plant is when the average weather temperature is less than 15 degrees Celsius. At The Butchart Gardens, we start to plant the Spring flowering bulbs in mid October.

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Daffodils will naturalize better than tulips or hyacinths
  • Bulbs will do best if planted in well-drained soil with a PH of 6-7 (soil test kits are available at your local nursery or garden shop and are a useful tool); if necessary, adjust the PH according to the results of your test
  • Victoria is considered to be a ‘Zone 8’ which means you can plant bulbs 4 – 6 inches deep with the tip of the bulb upward as some bulbs such as Hyacinth will not revert itself upward.  In general, plant bulbs 3 times the height of the bulb. For example, a 2" tall daffodil bulb should be planted 6" deep.  (Sometimes it is hard to determine which side is the pointy end, if unsure, plant the bulb on its side.) 
  • Select bulbs to provide a continuous show of colour from early spring to early summer. Start with snowdrops and crocus and then incorporate hyacinths,  tulips and daffodils with various bloom times
  • Bulbs will create a beautiful display of colour when planted in mass.  Smaller bulbs will provide nice impact when planted in groups of 25 or 30 and larger bulbs are best planted in groups of 7 or 9
  • Remember, even if all you have only a small space, such as a balcony, bulbs will create quite the show when planted in containers 

Enjoy your planning and planting and don't forget to water if we experience a dry spell.  Very soon you'll be rewarded with a colourful display. 

Happy planting!

- Rick Gordon, Greenhouse Manager, The Butchart Gardens

Hyancinths and Tulips at The Butchart Gardens