Planting bulbs is rather like giving yourself a wonderful promise of future flowers and happiness. What could be lovelier? If you want to enjoy spring flowers, such as daffodils and crocus, and early summer-flowering bulbs, like alliums, then it’s time to start planting bulbs!
When purchasing bulbs, wherever possible choose top-sized bulbs, as larger bulbs are more floriferous than smaller bulbs. Select plump, firm bulbs that are free of damage and mould.
Plant your bulbs as soon as possible. The standard advice is to plant bulbs twice to three times as deep as the height of the bulb – so if your bulb is 10cm tall – excavate a 20-30cm planting hole.
It’s important to plant your bulbs the right way up. Daffodils have a flat or rounded base where their roots grow out from and a pointed tip where the flowering stem will emerge. If you examine a bulb, you may be able to see where its fine roots have been trimmed. Position bulbs with their roots facing downwards, and their pointed shoot facing upwards.
I like to plant my bulbs in groups. Odd numbers tend to look more natural, so I plant in groups of three, five, seven, etc. If you’re planting larger quantities, a more successful approach is to throw the bulbs up into the air and then plant them wherever they fall. Bulbs shouldn’t be touching when you plant them, but don’t be tempted to rearrange the bulbs too much, as having some flowers more closely together and others on the outskirts of groups is what gives a natural, pleasing effect.
Alliums and daffodils look spectacular planted in garden beds or borders; here, herbaceous perennials hide their foliage as it dies back. Smaller bulbs and corms, like snowdrops, crocus, and Scilla, work well in meadow plantings in grassed areas. However, it’s important to avoid planting bulbs in compacted ground. Don’t be tempted to plant bulbs in lawns that are walked upon, as bulbs are very unlikely to succeed in tight compressed soils. To ensure the longevity of your bulbs, remember to delay cutting the grass until all foliage has died back. Why not take part in Plantlife‘s No Mow May?
Bulb planters designed to remove plugs of lawn are available, but I’ve found these aren’t as practical or long-lasting as a good quality narrow planting trowel.
Avoid planting bulbs in wet or waterlogged soils, as they’ll be more likely to rot or decompose in these conditions. Instead, plant bulbs in raised beds or pots.
If you’re planting bulbs in containers use a good quality peat-free compost like Dalefoot Composts’ Bulb Compost or Melcourt SylvaGrow®. Choose a planter with a hole at the base to allow water to escape.
My favourite bulbs include Allium cristophii, Narcissus ‘Fragrant Breeze’, Narcissus ‘Tiny Bubbles’, and Narcissus poeticus var. recurvus. Find more information about daffodil varieties, and many other bulbs in my plant pages.
For more gardening advice for September, please click here.
For more gardening advice for October, please click here.
For more gardening advice for November, please click here.
To see pictures of the stunning Allium bulbs that I planted last autumn, in flower in my garden this summer, please click here.
See my pictures of the colourful spring flowering bulbs that Dutch Grown sent me to trial by clicking here.
September is the perfect time to sow meadow seeds, for information on creating a wide range of meadows, please click here.
To see my daffodil plant pages, please click here.
To see my first Daffodil Trial, please click here.
To see my Daffodil Container Trial, please click here.
To see my third Daffodil Trial, please click here.
For more articles about bulbs, please click here.
For information on growing a wide range of vegetables, please click here.
For houseplant ideas and growing info, please click here.
To see my Calendar of Specialist Plant Fairs, please click here.