I love growing flowers from bulbs. You can create a really colourful display at times of the year when the rest of the garden is still playing catch up, and there’s such a wide variety to choose from. Bulbs are also relatively cheap compared to buying plants, so they’re a great way to create real wow factor in your garden without spending a fortune.
If you’d like to add some bulbs to your garden, here’s how to do it.
Choose your bulbs
There’s so much choice when it comes to bulbs; garden centres are your best bet for a wide range, but you’ll also find them on sale in supermarkets and DIY stores. Once you’ve picked your variety, have a good look at the actual bulbs in the packet. You’re looking for bulbs that are firm and robust; avoid anything that is soft or mouldy. I always liken it to choosing a good head of garlic!
Plant at the right time
It’s important to plant bulbs at the right time of year, and this varies according to the variety you choose. Here are a few popular choices for different times of the year.
Plant in spring: tender bulbs that flower in summer, such as gladioli and dahlias.
Plant in summer: bulbs that flower in autumn, such as nerine lilies and autumn flowering crocus.
Plant in autumn: bulbs that flower in spring, such as daffodils, iris, hyacinths, tulips, fritillarias and crocus. Also hardy bulbs that flower in summer such as crocosmia, alliums and lilies.
Prepare the ground
When you’re ready to plant, you’ll need a hand trowel and some plant markers. Start by getting rid of any weeds, and loosen up the soil. Ideally you should also add some compost before planting your bulbs, to give them plenty of nutrients as they form their flowers.
Dig your hole
Planting depth varies according to the type of bulb, so check your packet instructions before you start. Generally speaking, the hole should be about two to three times as deep as the bulb itself.
If you’re planting lots of bulbs it can get pretty laborious digging hole after hole, and this is where a specialist bulb planting tool can be a lifesaver. These clever little gadgets remove a clump of soil as you push them into the ground, then all you do is pop your bulb in the hole and squeeze the handle to release the soil back on top. They’re not very expensive and save so much time.
Plant your bulbs
Once your hole is ready, all you need to do is pop your bulb in and cover it back up with soil. You should always plant bulbs with the growing tip pointing upwards, but it’s not always easy to work this out! If in doubt, plant the bulb on it’s side and the stem will still grow upwards.
I think bulbs look really nice when they’re planted in clusters, but try not to get too regimented with your spacing. One way to make them look natural is to literally chuck a handful onto the soil, and plant them where they fall.
Add a marker
Given that they won’t be poking through the soil for a while, it’s really easy to forget where you planted your bulbs! Pop a plant marker in the soil to make sure you don’t accidentally dig them up later.
Other options for bulb planting
You don’t have to plant bulbs in the ground; they’re brilliant for creating a container display too. I really like making a bulb lasagne, this is a clever way of layering up bulbs to create a display of flowers that lasts for months.
You can even grow bulbs in your lawn; crocus are great for this. You need to remove a piece of turf, plant the bulb, then put the turf back on top.
You can also ‘force’ spring flowering bulbs to flower earlier than they would normally, this is a lovely way to enjoy a few blooms indoors. It’s really easy to do, check out my post on forcing spring flowering bulbs for instructions on how to do it.
Will you be planting bulbs this season?