Bulbs Need Special Care in Spanish Gardens

Even having gardened in Spain for twenty years we still find that growing bulbs is not as easy as in Northern European climates especially during the hot summer months. The main problems faced and our solutions are as follows.

Main Problems with Bulbs in Spain

  1. Some bulbous plants, especially soft skinned fleshy bulbs and immature rhizomes and tubers do not  last the first summer as a result of drying out , being attacked by small slugs and wormy insects seeking moisture during the long hot summers or rotting off in waterlogged clayey soils after the autumn rains.
  2. Many gardens have a red clay soil that bakes like a brick during the summer until lightened with copious amounts of composts and manures.

Practical Solutions

Our solutions are as follows:

  1. Plant mainly tougher skinned corms, rhizomes and take special care of  tubers and bulbs.
  2. Plant bulbs in raised beds or rockeries in a rich water retaining but well draining soil, or in containers.
  3. Mix in course sand, grit or crushed larva into the soil especially at the base of planting holes.
  4. Generally plant bulbs deeper than in northern Europe.
  5. Mulch planted areas with  compost and stone chippings to slow down the drying of the soil.
  6. Incorporate a little water retaining gel that contains fertilizing and aerating agents into the soil (we use TerraCottem  from www.terravida.com).
  7. Avoid very thirsty  dahlias and cannas unless you have a permanently damp area.
  8. Mix a little neem powder ( a natural product that has slug extermination and fungicidal  properties into planting holes.
  9. Buy from reliable sources  including the Heritage Bulb Society for unusual varieties