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Canberra Today 15°/20° | Friday, February 23, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Spring bulbs still need attention

Peruvian lily… despite its name, it comes from the western Mediterranean region. Photo: Jackie Warburton

Mulching and watering are important to keeping gardens alive through the hot summer months, says gardening columnist JACKIE WARBURTON. 

NOW that most of the spring bulbs have died down, their leaves can be removed and placed into the compost. 

Jackie Warburton.

Don’t feed spring bulbs as they are dormant and the fertiliser will be wasted. Only ever fertilise them when they’re growing. 

Placing mulch over the dormant bulbs will protect them over summer. New leaf growth will begin late summer to early autumn ready for the next season. 

If a clump of bulbs last season weren’t flowering as well as they used to, now’s a good time to divide and replant to get them growing strong again. 

One of my favourite spring bulbs flowering now is Peruvian lily (Scilla peruviana). Despite its common name, this plant comes from the western Mediterranean region. 

Scillas have spectacular cobalt-blue, star-shaped flowers that grow to about 30cm above the dark-green, strappy leaves. Scillas are also available in white flowering and are just as striking.

After flowering, the bulb goes dormant through the warmer months until autumn. 

With plenty of sunlight and warm, dry summers, it can be a fast grower. For a large garden it’s a good colour and filler plant where spring bulbs have finished and summer flowers haven’t started. 

Now’s the deadline to get summer and autumn bulbs into the ground and growing before the summer heat starts. 

Summer bulbs such as pineapple lilies, liliums, gladioli and naked ladies will start to put on new growth, meaning that’s the time to water and fertilise. Interestingly, many summer bulbs will flower before the foliage appears. 

They’re generally bigger bulbs and don’t like to be buried deep, as spring bulbs do. 

If you have bulbs that didn’t flower in spring, dig them up and identify them. If they’re spring bulbs, replant them at double the length of the bulb. The larger summer bulbs should be buried with their necks proud of the soil and planted in clumps for a mass display. 

Geum… Flowers through summer and into the cooler weather of autumn. Photo: Jackie Warburton

FLOWERING in the garden at the moment is a sweet little plant called Geum. Its ranges in colour from yellows to pinks and oranges to reds. It flowers through summer and into the cooler weather of autumn.

Although their foliage looks like geraniums, they are not related. They’re from the rose family and have a distinct flower arrangement like all plants from the Rosaceae family. They grow more like strawberry plants and can be a useful ground cover in no time. 

They don’t like hot dry conditions, so a little bit of shade will prevent them from scorching. 

They are rhizomatous plants and will grow into a nice little clump over time. The flowers are on long, wiry stems well above the plant.

There are new varieties out such as the low-maintenance “Flames of Passion” with ruby red flowers. It’s a fast-growing, compact plant. Also look out for Geums “Petticoats Peach”, with its frilly petals that change from peach to pink to yellow. 

Geums can be used to soften the edges of paths, walls or will grow successfully in a container or small garden space. 

Jottings 

  • Trim evergreen shrubs while they’re growing fast. 
  • Keep plants growing strong to prevent pests and disease. 
  • Prune lilacs after flowering. 
  • Prune the last of the spring such as viburnums, May bushes and photinias. 

 

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Jackie Warburton

Jackie Warburton

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