Plant bulbs now for the promise of future flowers!

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!

Allium cristophii flowers, pictured on the 22nd June 2021. These bulbs were given to me by Dutch Grown.

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.

When planting daffodils and other bulbs ensure that the bulb’s pointed tip is pointing upwards.

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.

When planting bulbs, make sure the roots of your bulbs are at the bottom, facing downward.
Here is one of every daffodil bulb that was planted for my 2018 Scented Daffodil Trial. I have placed a British Fifty Pence Piece next to each bulb, to more clearly demonstrate the size of each bulb. Each bulb is shown the correct way up for planting.

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.

When planting large numbers of bulbs, throw the bulbs into the air and plant them wherever they land. This will give a lovely natural look to your planting.

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?

Crocus flowers provide a much needed source of pollen and nectar for early flying bumble bees.

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.

Narcissus ‘Tiny Bubbles’ pictured on the 13th April 2018, during my Scented Daffodil Container Trial.

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.

Allium ‘Globemaster’ pictured in full bloom, in my garden, on the 8th June 2021.
This is an Ashy Mining Bee (also known by its scientific name, Andrena cineraria). I spotted this bee feasting upon my Allium cristophii flowers on the 5th June 2021.

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.

Narcissus ‘Fragrant Breeze’ produces large flowers with a powerful fragrance.
Narcissus poeticus var. recurvus pictured on the 9th May 2018, during my 2018 Scented Daffodil Trial.

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.

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