Growing notes

Culture notes on how to grow tulips and other Spring Flowering bulbs are included with all orders. The information below is also available in PDF - Spring Flowering Bulbs or Summer Flowering Bulbs.



ALLIUMS are easy to grow. Plant the bulbs just below the surface in a sunny position in a well drained soil. Alliums may be dug and stored like onions (taking care not to eat them) after leaves die down.

ALSTROEMERIAAlstroemeria tubers require a moist, well drained soil and should be planted in a sunny or semi-shaded position with mulch added in warm climates to keep the root system nice and cool. The tubers need to be planted as soon as possible after arrival and should never be allowed to dry out. Excellent cut flowers which grow to a height of 100 cm.       

AMARYLLIS Belladonna LiliesWhen growing these outdoors, plant bulbs just below the surface and use a compost mulch when dormant in summer. Grow in a moderately fertile, well- drained soil in full sun. Water moderately during growing season and keep bulbs dry while dormant in late summer. Protect from frost or grow indoors as these bulbs are excellent for pots. Use a loam based compost with added leaf mould and sharp sand. Place pots in full light and water moderately.                                                                                                                           

ANEMONESThese are ideal for mass planting. The small bulbs may be soaked in cold water for 24 hours prior to planting 7-10 cm deep in mainly full sun. Easy to grow as a colourful ‘filler’ in any garden.

BRODIAE Queen FabiolaPlant 7 cm deep in full sun or partial shade. Similar to Ipheion.

CHIONODOXA Glory in the SnowThese will flower early in Spring and can be planted 10cm deep and 15cm apart either in full sun or semi-shaded position. The bulbs do well under deciduous shrubs and trees and can be left in the ground to naturalize.                                                                                                             

COLCHICUMPlant these just below the surface in full sun. See under Crocus sativus and Autumn Crocus.  

CROCUS SATIVUS (Saffron Crocus) & Autumn Flowering Crocus. Saffron Crocus prefer a cool to cold winter and warm to hot summer. Plant in March, 7-10 cm deep in a well drained, moderately fertilized soil in full sun. They can be left in the ground for several years. It is recommended to divide them every 2-3 years. The corms need time to adapt to local conditions and will generally multiply rapidly. Do not irrigate during dormancy. Please keep corms in a cool, dark, dry place until planting time.

CROCUS VERNUS (Dutch Crocus) & crocus SPECIES (Crocus Chrysanthus)  May be used for naturalizing in gardens and rockeries, but prevent excessive irrigation during dormancy. Plant approx 8 cm deep and 10 cm apart in a well drained garden soil. Full sun preferred.  

ERANTHIS Winter AconiteSoak the small bulbs in cold water for 24 hours prior to planting. Plant about 10 cm deep in a well drained soil. Full sun to partial shade preferred. These may be left to naturalize in the garden. Low growing plants with ‘Buttercup’ like flowers.                                                                                     

ERYTHRONIUM Trout Lily This plant does best in a woodland setting perhaps together with Cyclamen and Scillas. Plant bulbs 10-12 cm deep in a moist, but well drained soil in a semi-shaded position. Added peat will enhance the moisture holding capacity of the soil. Bulbs should remain slightly damp during storage and before planting time or leave bulbs in the ground.                                                                                         

FREESIASThese corms grow to height of approx. 35 cm and should be planted about 5 cm deep and 10 cm apart in a well drained, but moist soil. They prefer a warm, sunny position and can be left in the ground for many years, but can be transplanted as soon as the foliage has died down. Freesias are sensitive to frost, so it is advised that the corms are mulched with straw or similar to protect them from frost or alternatively the corms may be planted in pots.                                                                                        

FRITILLARIAFritillarias do not have a skin, so please handle with care and do not let the bulbs dry out. It’s best to leave them in the ground to naturalize or alternatively (F. imperialis) dug up and stored in a dry, dark and cool place. Bulbs left in the ground should be mulched during dormancy to prevent them from drying out and to keep the ground nice and cool.      

FRITILLARIA MELEAGRIS Snake’s Head. The bulbs should be planted in the full sun to partial shade immediately after bulbs have been received. They prefer a moist sandy type soil and it is advised that peat be added to the soil. They should be planted 12.5 cm deep and 5 cm apart. The bulbs should be left in the ground to naturalize and the leaves, once yellow, cut off. The bulbs can also be grown in pots.                                                                                                       

FRITILLARIA UVA VULPIS & FRITILLARIA PONTICA These also require similar soil conditions as F. Meleagris, but these bulbs are in need of a more semi- shaded position. Excellent for naturalizing under trees or shrubs. Plant 12 cm deep surrounding the bulbs with some sand.  Also suitable for pot culture.                                                                                                                        

GALANTHUS Original SnowdropPlant these as soon as possible after arrival. These bulbs should be planted in the coldest part of the garden, preferably in a semi shaded position.Galanthus nivalis & woronowii should be grown under deciduous trees where the plants receive only filtered sunlight. Bulbs planted in tubs and positioned under trees are also a good way of growing G. nivalis. A well drained soil is essential. Galanthus elwesiican handle a little more warmth & sun and is therefore better suited to Australian conditions.  All Galanthus bulbs can be left in the ground to naturalize.                                                    

Gladiolus Nanus Miniature Gladioli These should be planted in the full sun approximately 10 cm deep and 10 cm apart in fertile, well drained soil. As these grow to 40-60 cm, they are suitable for pots, but ensure that pots are protected from severe cold weather. If planted in the garden, the corms can be left in the ground; however, in frost prone areas in particular, it is best to lift the corms when the leaves have died down or turn brown/yellow. Keep corms in a dry, cool place when storing during dormancy. 

HYACINTHSPlant in April-May in well drained garden beds, 10 cm deep and 15 cm apart. The growing conditions are similar to that of tulips. See also under tulips and growing bulbs in pots and water.

IPHEION Spring Star FlowerPlant these small bulbs 7- 10 cm deep in a well drained soil in full sun. Easy to grow.                                                              

IRISIris hollandica or Dutch Iris prefer a sunny position in a fertile well-drained garden soil (see under tulips). Plant bulbs about 10 cm deep and 10 cm apart in the months of April and May. These bulbs are best planted in clumps. After flowering, the dead flowers or seed pods should be removed to promote bulb growth.

Iris reticulata,also called miniature Iris, are excellent for use in rockeries and pot culture. The bulbs should be planted about 10 cm deep and 5 cm apart in a sunny or semi -shaded position and can be left in the ground to naturalize.                                                                                                                                    

IXIAS African Corn Lily Plant 7-10 cm deep in a sandy, well drained soil in full sun. They prefer a sheltered position in cold regions as frost can do some damage to leave growth.

LEUCOJUMGrow in moderately fertile, well drained soil in full sun. Leave in the ground to naturalize. See also Narcissus.

MUSCARIEasy to grow bulbs and excellent for naturalizing mainly in full sun. Plant 10cm deep. A reasonable good, well drained, garden soil is required but avoid wet areas. Both Muscari macrocarpum & ambrosiacum needs warm summers to flower well and prefer it a touch drier.

NARCISSUS DaffodilsThese bulbs are very hardy and easy to grow and can be left in the ground for many years to naturalize. Plant the bulbs in a sunny position during April-May, preferably in clumps, 10 cm deep and 15 cm apart.  Most varieties are suitable to naturalize in grassy areas.  As with all bulbs do not cut or mow off leaves until leaves are yellow and dying off.                                                                                                                                 

PUSCHKINNIAsee Chionodoxa   

RANUNCULUSEasy to grow in a light, maybe sandy, soil in full sun or partial shade. The small spider type bulbs may be soaked in cold water for 3-4 hours prior to planting. Plant 7-10 cm deep. This is a good colourful ‘filler’ type bulb to plant among Tulips and Daffodils.                                                                                                                             

SCILLAGrow in a well drained soil in full sun or dappled light. Plant about 10cm deep. Excellent for ‘massing’ and to naturalize in the garden. Easy to grow.                                                               

SPARAXISOkay to naturalize in the garden in regions with a mild winter. See under Ixias.                                                                                                                                 

TULIPS Store tulip bulbs in a cool, dry, dark and well-ventilated place until cooling or planting time. In March, the bulbs may be pre-cooled in the fridge, for 6 weeks or more, until planting time in April/ May. Tulips require a sunny well drained position in the colder regions of Australia, while in the warmer parts a semi-shaded position is best. Clumps of one variety will look best. Plant the bulbs in May in well drained or built up bed, 10 cm deep and 15 cm apart. Work in plenty of well decayed manure, compost or blood and bone, while in acid soils a little lime or dolomite should be added a few weeks before planting. Spray with a fungicide to prevent fungus disease and use an insecticide to prevent the occurrence of bulb aphids. Tulip bulbs should be dug when leaves become yellow and start to die off. The bulbs can then be dried, peeled and stored (at room temperature) until cooling or planting time.

Rockery and Specie Tulipsdo not need refrigeration and can be left in the ground for many years provided that no excessive irrigation takes place during the dormancy period.


Tulips, Hyacinths, Crocus and Iris reticulata are excellent for use in pot culture and here are some hints to make sure you will have a magnificent display. A 12 cm pot is the minimum pot size for Crocus and Iris Reticulata while tulips require a 15 cm pot or larger. Make sure the pots you use have good drainage holes. Big pots and tubs are even better and different varieties may be kept apart in clumps. Planting tulips in window boxes is an attractive way to add colour to your house, garden or balcony. However, it is important to choose the right variety for your window box. Varieties that are suitable are the shorter varieties, especially the so called potting tulips, like the Early and Triumph tulips. For the best results place pots of tulips in window boxes and cover the pots with soil or straw rather then planting the tulips directly in the window box. This method provides you with the opportunity to place other potted tulips or plants in the box when the tulips finish flowering, so you will have a continuous flowering display. Pots taken out can be cared for elsewhere.

SOIL:A good potting soil will be available from your nursery. If you would like to make your own potting mix, it is recommended to use one part composted pine bark, one part coarse river sand and one part peat with a little lime and blood and bone.

AFTER PLANTING:Put pots in a cool dark place such as under the house or similar. To ensure darkness pots can be covered with newspaper. The best way is to put the pots in a well drained position in the garden and to cover the pots with soil or straw for approx. 8 weeks.  When the shoots are about 5-6 cm high, the pots can be moved to a warmer semi-shaded place. When the flowers have produced a good flower bud, the pots can be put inside for flowers to bloom. Always place the pot in a cool position and water regularly.

AFTER FLOWERING:Move pots outside to a semi-shaded position and cut off the dead flowers. Keep soil moist until the foliage has died down. Bulbs can then be removed and should be planted out in the garden the following season.

GROWING BULBS IN WATERHyacinths and Crocus on Glass: Fill the glass with water so that the water just does not touch the bottom of the bulb/corm, then place the glass in a dark, cool to cold place, cellar or similar (the fridge is a must for Crocus). Do this late April, beginning of May. When the shoot is about 4/5cm out of the bulb/corm (after approx. 10 weeks) and the glass is filled with roots you may bring them into a cool position in your living room. Always maintain the water level in the glass. In warmer regions of Australia, the Hyacinths may be pre-cooled in the fridge.




BEARDED IRIS- Iris x germanica Bearded Iris are very hardy and should do well in any garden growing to approximately 60-70cm. During Autumn plant these in a sunny position as they do best in the full sun. They prefer a neutral to slightly acidic soil and should be planted with the base of the rhizome just below the surface. Bearded Iris can be left in the ground for many years and can be divided every 2-3 years.

CONVALLARIA ‘Lily of the Valley’ Convallaria majalis Plant 5 cm deep in a moist, humus rich but well drained soil in a partially shaded position. Always plant these plants a.s.a.p. after arrival. The plants prefer to be left undisturbed for many years. Convallaria can also be grown in pots. Plant in Winter, leave pots in the ground and lift pots when due to flower. Place pots back in garden after flowering.

DAHLIAS - Dahlia tubers should be planted in Spring after the frosts. They prefer a sunny position protected from strong winds. Plant the tubers about 5-10 cm deep and about 60 cm apart in a rich, well-drained soil using plenty of well decayed manure, compost and/or blood and bone. Make sure that the ‘buds’ or ‘eyes’of the tubers are placed upwards. Always ensure that the soil is nice and moist during the growing period. Removing old flowers will promote further flowering. Dahlias can be harvested and divided every 2-3 years during Winter, by cutting the stems to 15 cm, then allow to dry before digging. Store the tubers in a cool, dark and well ventilated place.

GLADIOLI- Gladiolus grandifloras Because Gladioli grow in excess of 1 meter in height, they should be planted in a sheltered part of the garden where they receive full sun. The corms can be planted from August-December in a well-drained soil. However, it is important to plant the corms after the last frost. Light, sandy soils, with added manure or compost, are best, but heavier soils can be improved somewhat by including peat and compost. It is important to keep the soil moist at all times during the growing period. When the leaves start to yellow and die off (4-6 weeks after flowering) irrigating should cease. The corms should be dug, peeled, cleaned and dried properly before storing them in a cool, dark, dry and ventilated place. Dust with an insecticide to control thrips.

LILIUMS need to be planted immediately after arrival and should not be allowed to dry out. Plant the bulbs in Winter or early Spring, 20-30 cm apart, in a well fertilized and drained soil. Add some mulch to provide cool growing conditions for the root system. They prefer a sunny or semi shaded (filtered sunlight) position. Excellent cutflowers. It is best to remove old flower heads. Bulbs can be left in the ground and should be fertilized during late Winter. Transplant the bulbs (if needed) during Winter taking care not to let them dry out. They grow to approximately 1 metre or taller.

Asiatic Liliums Grown for their colours, these liliums are hardy and can be left in the ground when planted in a well-drained soil. Also suitable for pots but should be planted in the garden the following year. Water regularly when growing liliums in pots.

Lilium Longiflorum The Christmas lily prefers a partial shaded position. These are also good for potculture.

Lilium Regale This lilium prefers the full sun and can grow up from 70cm to 1.5m. It prefers a moist well drained soil and does not tolerate very alkaline soils.

Oriental Liliums Oriental liliums are known for their strong fragrance. They can be grown in full sun or partial shade. They grow to approiximately 1 metre or taller. If planted in pots, these do better in dappled shade.

Tiger Lilies Lilium lancifolium (syn. tigrinum) These lilies prefer moist acidic soils.

NERINES - Nerine bowdenii, Nerine flexuosa, Nerine sarniensis & Nerine x hybridus These bulbs also require a moist, but well-drained soil. A good layer of mulch containing compost is beneficial. A sunny or semi shaded position is best. The cultivar N. splendens is only suitable for the warmer parts of Australia. Plant Nerines in summer with the top of the bulb level with the surface and provide a deep Winter mulch in cold areas.


Herbaceous Paeonies - Paeony rhizomes are planted during the Winter months in a rich, well fertilized, well-drained and slightly alkaline soil. Plenty of compost or well decayed manure with blood and bone is recommended with a little lime added beforehand. Plant the rhizomes in a sunny or semi shaded position 60 cm apart with the eyes just below the surface. Remove the old flowers. Try not to harvest too many cut flowers when the plant is young and trying to establish itself. It is best to wait 1-2 years. Paeony roses are best left in the ground for many years, although the rhizomes can be divided/transplanted after a few years.

Tree paeonies - These prefer a well-drained, moderately fertilized, alkaline soil. Plant these in the full sun, but in a cold position. The first year the plant will develop a good root system. In the first year, the plant will develop a good root system. In the following years, more shoots and flowers will appear. Use plenty of well-rotted manure, compost and lime.

SPREKELIA ‘Jacobean Lily’ – Sprekelia formosissima Plant the bulbs with the neck and shoulder above soil level. Excellent for pot-culture; use a loam based potting compost. In the garden, these bulbs should be grown in a moderate fertile, well-drained soil in the full sun and protected from frosts.

ZANTEDESCHIAS ‘Calla Lily’  prefer a rich, moist, well drained soil with plenty of old manure added. Nitrogen rich and fresh animal manure is not recommended. They thrive in warmer weather, so plant these in the full sun, but water well during the dry periods. Plant the tubers/rhizomes 10 cm deep. Aethiopca, Green Goddess and Nepalense may tolerate ‘boggy’ soil conditions and are excellent plants around ponds.