how to plant a bulb lasagne

how to plant a bulb lasagne

It is a pretty wet and miserable autumn day, so I have retreated inside because it’s bulb planting day. And I’m going to plant lots of pots today in bulb lasagnes.

And it’s the most brilliant system which you can never quite believe but the bottom bulb that is below perhaps one or two other layers of bulbs. If it hits its growth tip hits the bulb above it, it just goes round and carries on growing.

The other thing that I find incredible about this is that you think that the one planted most deep will be stunted so that the flowers will be all short and stumpy but that doesn’t happen, it’s incredible, it grows to the height that you would expect even if it was planted on the soil surface.

So, to do it, I have got this nice pot, which is about a foot deep, 30cms, a little bit wider, 40cm, and I am going to put lots of crocks in the bottom of the pot.

It’s slightly less important in a way, putting them in now, than you would with a summer pot because of course they create masses of roots. And the point of the crocks is it stops the roots blocking the hole in the bottom of the pot so stops drainage, but the thing is with bulbs is it just so important to have good drainage, so you have got to have your crocks in there. And now I am just going to fill with compost, but not fill, I’m just going to go to a depth, of 20cm from the top of the pot, so 18 inches. Not 18 inches, 8 inches.

And I’m going to do my first layer of bulbs. Now, I’m in fact using 3 different species. I’m going to use a tulip, a narcissus and an iris. And what you always have to bear in mind is that the smallest and earliest flowering bulb goes on the top, the biggest and the latest flowering bulbs goes in the bottom layer.

But if you are just planting as we do here, tulips in these layers, you can just mix them up in a tub trug or in a bowl or whatever you want to do. And you then just do them in the layers mix, so you don’t have to worry about the different depths but with me it’s the tulip that’s going in first because they are the biggest and they are the latest.

And then the next thing you need to bear in mind is the distribution or the concentration of the bulbs that you are planting.

So, in the garden, I would always do them at twice the width of the bulb so that’s the width, so its twice the width. But in a pot, you just want it to be much more concentrated, it is concentrated gardening, so I’m halving that. So, I’m literally doing it at the width of the bulb as a space between them and so in this layer, I can do six round the outside and three in the middle. And then, the compost just simply goes straight over the top and I’m coming up by about another 10cms.

Smooth that, and then in goes the narcissi. Same distribution.

And obviously, because I’ve come a little bit higher in the pot, I can get more in because it’s a bit wider as you move up the fluted pot.

And the great thing about this, is this will flower in March and the tulip will flower in April. And then I back fill again, and cover that.

And I’m coming right to the top now, and firm it down, and then just slotted in literally under the compost surface I’m going to do this iris. Which is an Iris reticulata and I completely adore these. And it’s because February is a really tricky month don’t you think, I always find it really tricky and we have had a long winter and spring is not yet there. But these iris really brings spring closer because they flower in February and, so I put them in pretty densely in the top of the pot.

There’s enough in these bags for two matching pots, and then I’m just going to spread them out over the compost surface so that I can see where they are before I press them in.

But I am putting them really pretty close and being quite generous and that feels quite extravagant but of course because they are in the top of the pot I can just, as soon as these are flowered I could leave them with their foliage, with the other things below them or I could just whisk these out as soon as they have flowered and store them until the following year so you know it is a one off purchase in a sense.

So I’m just going to put those nice and densely through the top and just ease them a little bit so they don’t fall over and then just do a final thin layer and that’s it, just label and wait for these to come up and as I say these are February, these narcissus are March and these tulips are April. And they are going to give me this lovely succession in a wonderful bulb lasagne.