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Looking after your garden bulbs this winter

It’s been one of oddest winters we can remember. It’s been mild and miserable and very, very wet. However, looking on the bright side, the unseasonably warm weather has meant that many of us are now seeing bulb leaves and buds emerging. So what can gardeners do to look after and nurture their emerging bulbs this winter? Well, here are Ladybrook Nurseries top bulb tips.

All bulbs dislike wet conditions. So it’s important to rake away any soggy leaves around the necks of bulbs. If left these leaves will cause the bulbs to rot. Whilst you’re at it, it’s also useful to cut back any overhanging shrubs and branches at lower levels too. This will give the bulbs more daylights and let you fully appreciate their beauty when they start to bloom. Bulbs are especially vulnerable at this time of year, as they can be difficult to spot and are therefore at risk of being trod on. Be careful when hoeing weeds and try to avoid damaging the shooting bulb tips.

Most winter and spring-flowering bulbs are pretty hardy and tough, and are capable of pushing their way through even the coldest soils. However, because of the unusually mild December weather, many later-flowering bulbs are already well advanced. We’ve even seen daffodils emerging. To protect these tender shoots from frost, cover them with a floating mulch of fleece.

You would normally expect to see snowdrops and winter aconites at this time of year, but the mild December weather has meant that we’re also seeing crocuses and daffodils as we’ve mentioned, as well as early tulips and even some bluebells starting to emerge. If you’re lucky enough to have got flowering daffodils, then it might be wise to pick them and enjoy their beauty before the frosts can do any damage.

Tulips are generally a hardy bunch, and will recover from minor frost damage. What they don’t like is wet, badly drained soil. If your garden is prone to wet soil, then you might consider planting your tulips in containers in future. Bluebells are more tolerant of wet soil than other bulbs, but if your garden is prone to getting wet, it is often best to lift and replant bluebells into pots.

If you’re growing your bulbs in pots, then it’s wise to protect these from the elements particularly with the weather we’re having at the moment. Bulbs do not like wet soil, so move your pots out of the rain. If you have only limited spaces where you can store your bulb pots, then stand the pots on feet or bricks so excess water can drain off more easily.

Waterlogged earthenware and ceramic pots can also shatter and crack if the weather suddenly turns cold, as the water in the soil will expand when it turns to ice. Frozen bulbs are also more likely to rot. So if cold weather is expected or forecasted, insulate your pots and wrap them in in fleece or bubble wrap.

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