Bulb plants, the flowers of spring

by M. Arjoca, vegetalshapes.com

CrocusesWe can not imagine the spring without the wonderful tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, snowdrops, squills and crocuses. When the snow is melted and the sun begin to warm, the terraces, the gardens and the earth color themselves with these early flowers and the air become full with the smell of hyacinths. It’s time for new. After a few months of winter, when our soul perhaps was numb, these messengers of spring come and tell us that is time for a new beginning in our life. The bees swarm around them and Ostara, the fertility goddess, is celebrated with them.
All these plants have roots that appear from a bulb (an onion). From this bulb grows a single stem that usually has just one flower. Even they have a single flower, the bulbs are cultivated in group. So their flowers create the impression of a patch of color. The bulbs bloom in spring when the light is not too strong and the temperature is not too high. They are one step ahead of other plants and take advantage of it. The trees are leafless and the light reaches also the spots that are usually shaded. So, they are suited for sunny gardens, but also for gardens with semi-shade. The bulbs make leaves and bloom before the other plants and the beneficial insects, awakened after the winter sleep, are attracted to their scent and colors. Until other plants grow and bloom, the bulbs complete their life cycle. This way they don’t have too much competition in attracting insects that pollinate them.
The bulbs must be planted in autumn or spring and some of them, like the crocuses, may bloom also in autumn, when the light and the temperature have the same values like in spring. Why are they planted in autumn? Though you are tempted to believe that they sleep during winter, actually they prepare themselves for spring. And when the first signs of it are seen, their leaves are already above the ground. So, if the bulbs are planted in autumn, the plants will be stronger and they will bloom earlier than if they are planted in spring.
Purple tulipYou don’t have to worry that if they are planted in autumn, they will freeze during winter. The bulbs contain some substances that make them resistant to frost. Plus the earth and the snow protect them. However pay attention if you grow them in containers. The amount of soil in containers is small (not like in garden) and it is possible that they will freeze. So, wrap them with protective sheets or keep them somewhere inside until spring comes.
One of the good points about bulbs is the fact that you can grow them in pots. A container garden can really enjoy these lovely flowers. You can have snowdrops, crocuses, hyacinths, tulips, daffodils, grape hyacinths, squills, Amaryllis lilies, African lilies etc. They just have to have enough light, the container must be large enough to let the roots and new small bulbs grow and the watering must be done properly. The soil must be suited to their needs and let the water drain.
You can add compost and organic fertilizers, but some plants, like the snowdrops, don’t need them.

Here are the soil requirements of some bulbs.

Name prefered soil type prefered soil pH
Amaryllis rich slightly acidic
Crocuses rich, well drained slightly acidic
Daffodils rich, well drained slightly acidic
Grape hyacinths rich, well drained slightly acidic
Hyacinths rich, well drained slightly acidic
Snowdrops they don't like clay soil slightly acidic
Squills rich slightly acidic
Tulips rich, well drained slightly acidic

BluebellsYou can grow in a single pot a single type of flowers or more types. A simple way to create a charming and colorful flowers pot is the layers method.
In container large and deep enough, you can lay bulbs of tulips, hyacinths and crocuses. Put some soil at the bottom of the pot, than a few tulip bulbs. Cover them with a layer of soil. Above this layer put some bulbs of hyacinths, but lay them so they can not stay exactly above the tulip ones. Cover with soil. Than put the bulbs of crocuses in the same way and cover with earth.
Of course you can plant other types of bulbs, not just those mentioned above, but pay attention to their size, to the height of plants after they grow, to the time of blooming and to the colors of the flowers.
The bulbs of the tallest plants must be placed at the bottom of the pot. The next ones are those of the medium height plants and the last ones are the bulbs of the shorter plants.
Don’t cut the leaves after the flowers fade because the bulbs continue to accumulate food after their flowers are spent. Let them until the leaves fade by themselves. After this you can let them in the ground or you can dig them out and store them in a dark and dry place. After you dig them out, clean them from soil, but don’t wash them because they can rot. Divide the new formed bulbs and put them in paper bags or boxes. Don’t keep them in plastic bags or plastic boxes because they can rot. The air must flow freely between them.
The most popular spring flower bulbs are: the snowdrops, the crocuses, the hyacinths, daffodils, tulips, grape hyacinths and Amaryllis lilies. The color of the flowers varies from white to mixture of different colors and shades.Also, the shape of the flowers can be different. Some tulips have classic shape flowers, but others have pointed petals or their petals have fringed edges. The hyacinths may have simple or rich flowers.
Star of BethlehemBeside these popular bulbs, you can grow also: squills with blue flowers, chives that make purple, rounded flowers (they are also edible), stars of Bethlehem that have white or yellow flowers, Dutch irises (short varieties), ornamental onions, bear’s garlic.
The bulbs can be grown in sunny gardens, but also in semi-shaded gardens, in gardens created on flat surfaces or in slope gardens. With some imagination and good mood you can create beautiful combinations of forms and colors. Even if there is just a single flower or there are more than one, these messengers of spring give us hope and joy.   

Here you can find more about:

How the snowdrops appeared