Monty Don gives advice on planting bulbs in layers
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Monty Don and Gardeners World have shared a clever trick where one container is used for three months of spring flowers to bloom within it. The horticulture expert calls it ‘bulb lasagne’ and it is a great way to give maximum flower power in a small space. The practical video guide showed Monty taking fans through the process of creating a layered spring container display that started with Iris’ in February, followed by Narcissus Tête-à-Tête in March and then beautiful Tulips in April. In a bid to make the container look pretty until spring, only topped off the pot with pansies and violas for colour through autumn and winter.
“It’s very much bulb planting season and as well of planting bulbs in the ground, you can grow them really well in pots,” Monty began explaining. “And I try and grow as many bulbs as I have got pots – just fill them all up.
“But you can also fill individual pots with layers of bulbs and this is great either if you have a pot or pots that you absolutely love or just a tiny space and you want to maximise the colour in the space you’ve got.
“I’ve got a couple of pots here which have to a really wide top and therefore, really good for being full of flower.
“What I will be doing is planting bulbs in here, and when they’ve finished, take them out and then have another display which will see me through summer,” he added.
“One of the beauties of growing bulbs in pots – if they’re only going to be temporary – is you can break all the rules.
“First thing to do is cover that drainage hole otherwise all the compost will fall out.”
He placed a small piece of broken terracotta over the pot’s drainage hole.
“Now, all these bulbs like free-draining compost – so whatever compost you use, mix it with either perlite or grit,” Monty said.
“I’ve also added leaf mould because bulbs do really well in leaf mould.
“So, a layer in the bottom, now on the bottom layer I’m using tulips.
“I’ve got a variety here called Negrita with nice long stems and lovely purple flowers.
“And I can pack them in – we’ll pop the bulbs just an inch or two apart, pointy side up,” he suggested.
“When you buy tulip bulbs, look for nice big plump bulbs and the bigger the bulb, the better they will flower.
“That is our late April display, we cover that up with a layer of compost and the next layer is going to be daffodils.
“And what i have here is Tête-à-Tête, and everything about it is elegant, petite, full of grace,” the presenter remarked.
“We don’t need to worry about blocking the route of the tulips underneath, they will find their way past these bulbs and negotiate a passage.”
“And we also don’t need to worry about finding enough food, we don’t need to add any extra feed to the compost because everything that bulb need to flower is there.”
He then sprinkled another layer of compost and continued: “Now, on top of that I’m going to put some Iris’, these are dwarf Iris with intense colours and they just shine like jewels – very early in the season, these will flower certainly in February and perhaps last into March which, of course, is when Tete-a-Tete will come through.
“The bulbs are set, just put them in some reasonably sheltered, reasonably sunny spot and you can leave them there until the shoots start to appear and there you put them where you want them to display them.
“But, it will only look like that,” Monty remarked in reference to a pot looking like it was just filled with soil.
“So if I want it to look great from now, right the way through until the Iris’ stat flowering in February, I need to add something on top, and I love pansies and violas.
“Now the secret to growing really successful violas and pansies is not to let them dry out too much – so they will need some water and the bulbs will find their way through the pansies, don’t worry about that.”
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