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Grow the best - Winter Bulbs

The Harlequin flowers of SparaxisWinter and spring flowering bulbs are best planted through autumn. Indigenous bulbs return year after year providing a long lasting display of colour. We asked the experts from Hadeco for their tips to grow the best bulbs.

Bulbs like their roots to be kept continually moist from planting time onwards. This will ensure optimum flowering. All your bulbs need to set them growing is a reasonable soil loosened to a depth of about 20cm, a liberal composting and an application of planting fertiliser. Regular watering every 4-5 days is essential. Feed them with Hadeco flower bulb food every two weeks to encourage good growth and strong bulbs for the next season as well.

Here is our pick of the most rewarding indigenous bulbs. Most of our indigenous bulbs come from the Cape winter rainfall regions and have become extremely popular all over the world.

Sparaxis

The open star- shaped flowers of Sparaxis with many intricate patterns in their centres is our number one pick. The overall effect of looking into a group of Sparaxis flowers is like looking into a kaleidoscope. Colours range from white to pure yellow, orange, pink, red, mauve and salmon to even green. Individual blooms do not last long, but flowers on the slender stems open successively from the bottom up, giving a fine, long- lasting display.

Sparaxis will grow and bloom well in relatively poor soil. A rockery suits them, as does a border site. They are at their most effective if planted in groups of 25 or 50. They can also be grown in pots. They need a few hours of direct sunlight each day in order for the blooms to open fully

Babiana

Babiana or as we call them Monkey FlowersCup-shaped blooms of thumbnail size are arranged along a 20cm tall floral spike on our number two pick - Babiana, also called baboon flowers. Babiana are so called because baboons are said to relish the corms. The blooms open successively from the lowest upwards and colours range from blue to mauve, red, white and cream.

Foliage is hairy and linearly ribbed. Babiana are most effective in small groups. The corms like to be deep-seated and should be planted with some 8cm of soil over them. Space them about 5cm apart, closer in pots. They need full sunlight to bloom properly

Ixias

Awesome Indigenous IxiasAn excellent cut flower, Ixias lso known as a Wand flower because it has a longer stem and when picked resembles a wand, flowers in winter and early spring. They flower for about a month with a spike of numerous star shaped flowers clustering on the end of the stem. Planted in groups of 25 create the best effect.

Full sun is preferable. Ixias are capable of withstanding a few degrees of frost. Water the corms regularly to root level all through winter, spring and early summer.

Freesias

Fragrant FreesiasFragrant Freesias look great planted in groups in the border or rockery and look beautiful either in single- colour groupings or in mixed colour lots. Freesias planted in semi- shade will grow taller than those planted in full sun. You may need to provide hoops for support for those in the semi-shade.

Feed after flowering, and leave them in the ground for next year. Blooms range in colour from dark purple to red, pink, yellow and white. Freesia blooms are strongly scented, with a lovely distinct perfume.

Tritonia

Tritonia are easy to care forPlant our number six pick, Tritonia in a sunny position in a rockery or in the foreground of a mixed border. They can also be planted in pots if the soil drains well. They are easy to grow and care for; all they require is regular watering in winter and spring. To ensure good flowering the next year, feeding with bulb food is recommended.