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 flower bulbs to your garden, here’s a step-by-step guide on planting bulbs.
When to plant flower bulbs
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.
Bulbs to plant in spring: tender bulbs that flower in summer, such as gladioli and dahlias.
Bulbs to plant in summer: bulbs that flower in autumn, such as nerine lilies and autumn flowering crocus.
Bulbs to 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.
Choose your flower bulbs
There’s so much choice when it comes to bulbs. Garden centres stock a wide range, you’ll also find them on sale *online and 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!
Prepare the ground
When you’re ready to start planting bulbs, you’ll need a hand trowel or bulb planting tool, 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.
How deep to plant bulbs
Planting depth varies according to the type of bulb, so check the packet instructions before you start. Generally speaking, the hole should be about two to three times as deep as the bulb itself.
Once your hole is ready, all you need to do is pop your bulb in and cover it back up with soil.
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.
A bulb planting tool takes the strain out of the job!
If you’re planting lots of bulbs, it can get pretty laborious digging hole after hole. This is where a *bulb planting tool can be a lifesaver.
These clever little gadgets remove a clump of soil as you push them into the ground. Once you’ve done this, you just 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.
Which way do you plant flower bulbs?
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.
Add a plant 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 planting bulbs in pots in layers to create a display of flowers that lasts for months.
It’s easy to grow bulbs in your lawn too; 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 full instructions.
I hope this quick guide on how to plant bulbs has inspired you to get out there and do some planting – will you be planting bulbs this season?