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A Beginners’ Guide To Planting Spring Bulbs

Released On 11th Oct 2023

A Beginners’ Guide To Planting Spring Bulbs

Now that we’re firmly into the autumn months, it’s time to start thinking ahead to the warmer months again. Yes, it’s a bit optimistic, but as gardeners, we’re already dreaming of springtime and planning ahead. Believe it or not, autumn is the perfect time to start planting bulbs for your spring-flowering plants so they’re ready to fill your garden with a riot of colour and fragrance.

But planting bulbs isn’t as simple as dropping them into the ground. A lot of people make some basic mistakes with bulbs, and this can significantly impact the success of your garden. So today, we’re going to guide you through how to plant your spring bulbs that will give you the best results.

What Bulbs To Plant

Before you get to the planting, you first need to choose the right bulbs to plant. Take into account your garden’s size, style and colour preferences, as well as what month they flower, how hardy they are and their height. This will help you get the right combination of blooms and make your garden look its best. While we can’t give exact recommendations without looking at your garden, but we can recommend a few beginner-friendly bulbs to get you started. Why not try:

  • Tulips
  • Daffodils
  • Crocus
  • Hyacinths
  • Snowdrops
  • Alliums
  • Scilla
  • Fritillaria
  • Grape Hyacinth
  • Anemones

Time And Location

Once you have the bulbs you want to plant, it’s time to pick the right place to plant them. In general, spring-blooming bulbs thrive in well-drained soil with good sun exposure, so be sure to choose a spot in your garden that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight every day in the spring. This doesn’t have to be all year round, just when the bulbs are flowering, so you may be able to plant them under non-evergreen trees, since they won’t come into leaf until later.

Wherever you choose, make sure that the soil has good drainage. You don’t want the bulbs to rot in soggy soil! If your soil is heavy or poor draining, a good solution is to create raised beds, or to add organic matter to improve drainage.

You want to plant your bulbs in the autumn, between September and the end of October, around six weeks before the first hard frosts hit. This will differ slightly depending on where you are, so make sure you’re planning ahead. This allows the bulbs to establish roots before the winter, which means they can get the chilling period they need to flower properly.

Prepare Your Soil

If your soil is in good condition, then you don’t really need to do anything to get your soil ready for bulbs. The bulbs themselves contain all the energy they need to grow, flower and store more energy to grow next year. But if your soil isn’t in the best condition, then you can do some things to help. Remove any weeds, rocks or debris that could be compacting the soil, and add some compost to enrich the soil. This will help provide the nutrients the bulbs need to establish strong roots.

Planting Basics

Now it’s time to plant! Different types of bulbs will require different planting depths, so it’s important to check any instructions before planting.

As a general rule, large bulbs, like tulips and daffodils, should be planted at a depth of around 6-8 inches, while smaller bulbs like crocuses and snowdrops only need to be around 3-4 inches deep. If you aren’t sure what the bulb is, then a good rule of thumb is to plant it 3 times the depth in the ground. Make sure you’re spacing each bulb around 2-3 times their width apart to give them room to grow and prevent overcrowding.

You can plant bulbs individually, or you can group them together by digging a larger hole and placing several bulbs inside, creative clusters or drifts that look more natural. Or if you want a truly ‘as nature intended’ look, throw a handful of bulbs into your flowerbed and then plant them where they land! 

If you see signs of rot or disease, or your bulbs have turned green and powdery, don’t plant them. Compost them instead.

Bulb Care

Once planted, you will need to do some basic care to get the best from your plants. First, thoroughly water them to help the soil settle and the roots to establish. This is the step that most people miss, but bulbs need water even when they are dormant, or they will dry out and die. Once the soil is thoroughly watered, apply a layer of mulch. This helps regulate soil temperature, prevent weed growth and adds an extra layer of protection from particularly harsh frosts during winter.

Over the next few months, keep an eye out for signs of pests like squirrels, voles or deer, who like the taste of bulbs and will dig them up to eat any chance they get. If you see any, use deterrents like netting or even rose clippings – these are thorny and provide a natural deterrent. 

Annual Care

Did you know that most bulbs will come back year after year? Especially if you’ve planted them in a good spot and they’re left to absorb energy from the sun after flowering. The only exceptions are tulips, which will die out each year. To make sure your bulbs come back healthy every year, avoid cutting back any foliage once they’ve flowered, as this will rob them of essential nutrients. Instead, give them a good dose of liquid fertiliser once flowering is complete.

Spring bulbs are a wonderful way to welcome the changing of the seasons, and they can provide your garden with a stunning burst of colour every year. Whether you opt for the timeless beauty of tulips, the bright energy of the daffodil or the gentle beauty of the snowdrop, there’s a spring bulb to suit every garden. If you’re not sure what to plant, or you want some help greeting your ideal garden, just get in touch with the team today.