Growing Spanish Bluebells

Latest Update 20th September 2016.

Spanish Bluebells
  • These unfussy members of the lily (asparagaceae) family are native to Spain and Portugal and they grow well here in Melbourne which has a similar climate.  I grow them under my Apricot tree where they are protected in our hot summers but get enough light in winter to bring on a showy display in early spring.
  • Spanish bluebells reproduce by developing small offsets (baby bulbs) on the sides of the mother bulbs. They also produce seeds, allowing them, over time, to fill in and create large patches of brilliant blue bells in spring.
Details
  • Binomial Name:                                       Hyacinthoides hispanica.
  • Family:                                                    Asparagaceae.
  • Garden bed type:                                     Drip line irrigated. 
  • Plant Spacings:                                    Close together. 
  • Climate:                                                  Warm Temperate.
  • Geography:                                             Southern Hemisphere. 
Growing Conditions:
  • They are dormant in summer, and as they die back use the nutrients in their foliage to help develop the new bulbs.
  • They require very little water in summer, and Melbourne's winter rains are enough to produce healthy foliage and flowers.
  • They grow well in my active organic soil and require little more than an autumn dressing of homemade compost and mulch.
  • Minimise soil disturbances to maintain a natural soil structure.
Propagating new plants.
  • To propagate Spanish bluebells, harvest a few of the offsets or small bulbs on the side of the parent bulb in autumn and plant them in prepared soil about 100mm apart.  They reproduce quickly until will quickly fill the available space.
  • To control them simply dig up a few bulbs around the edge of the patch and replant them elsewhere or dispose of them in your hot compost.
Preparing a new bed.
  • Clear a space for your new plants in September and dispose of any organic waste in the compost.
  • Apply a 60mm thick top dressing of home made compost and cover with fresh straw mulch.
  • Leave for 4 weeks to boost worm and microbial activity.
Growing Instructions
  • In spring move some of the mulch to one side and press the bulbs into the soil pointy end facing upwards 100mm apart.  Water it in well with dilute seaweed extract.
  • The bulbs will grow roots in autumn and grow foliage and flowers in early spring.
  • Move the mulch back over the plants to protect them against unexpected frost
  • Prune them all down to the ground in early summer and apply a generous layer of homemade compost covered with straw mulch on top of the soil.
  • Spray the plant's foliage with aerated compost tea every month as it emerges in winter
Organic Pest Control. 
  • My Spanish Bluebells have been pest and disease free for many years.
  • General:
    • Regular foliar sprays of aerated compost tea boosts the natural defences of plants by colonising the leaf surfaces with beneficial microbes.  These microbes defend the plant against airborne pests and diseases.
    • Similarly, proper soil preparation including annual applications of home made compost boosts the community of beneficial microbes, which defend the plant's roots against pathogens.

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