Bulb planting time

Buckets of bulbs

March is traditionally bulb planting time but most garden centres have a selection of bulbs available now, or you can buy from specialist bulb growers such as NZ Bulbs. Buy your tulip, anemone and ranunculus bulbs and pop them in the fridge for 6-8 weeks before planting. Tulips, especially if you live in a warm area, need a period of chilling to initiate bud formation, and anemones and ranunculi will have a better germination rate if chilled first too. Place them in paper bags in your fridge and keep them away from fruit. Many fruits emit ethylene, which can cause the bud inside the bulb to abort.

This gorgeous photo comes from here.

Insanely beautiful flowers

Hydrangea vase

Spot the handsome hydrangea and the sexy South American bulb in this photo-worthy floral display. The hydrangea you’ve met before, but the bulb? Commonly known as ‘glory of the sun’, its botanical name is Leucocoryne purpurea. According to Parva Plants, it produces a few needle-like leaves in autumn “followed later by tall thin wiry stems boasting up to 8 long-lasting fragrant, papery blooms in shades of violet or maroon”. Outstanding!

Anemones and ranunculi

Anemomes and ranunculi

I picked a bunch of white anemones and orange ranunculi yesterday, two of my all-time favourite flowers. I reckon they’re the best-value bulbs on the market. Last year mine bloomed for five solid months, providing endless bunches of flowers for indoors. And they’re super long-lasting in the vase, the ranunculi lasting up to two weeks and anemones 5-7 days. [Read more…]

Teach tulips to sit up

Parrot tulip

Tulips often misbehave as cut flowers. They bend and contort as they continue to grow. To straighten them up, cut stems on an angle, then roll each flower tightly in newspaper, extending it above the blooms but leaving the lower third of the stems free. Stand in a vase of cool water in a cool spot for two to three hours. Unwrap to reveal upright tulips.

Daffodil days


Daffodils and spring go hand in hand, but the daffs in my patch started blooming in early August (that’s late winter in the southern hemisphere). I don’t know the variety – they were here when I moved in – but the small delicate blooms are a mere 3cm wide, with eight flowers per stalk. Each has a wreath of creamy white petals which surround a pale yellow cup. If you get down to their level outdoors (they stand about 40cm high) you get a strong whiff of perfume. Indoors the fragrance hits you between the eyes as soon as you walk in the door.

When picking daffs, pinch the stems off at ground level rather than snipping them off with secateurs – unless you’re prepared to scrub your blades clean after each cut. [Read more…]