APL Garden Designer Member;
Garden and Landscape Designer Kent

Telephone: 01892 263863
Email: info@karenmcclure.co.uk

Planting Spring bulbs – be quick!

A straight forward guide to planting bulbs

If you don’t know your tulips from your daffs and feel planting bulbs is a waste of time, please do consider (even if it’s just a pot) planting a few spring bulbs – it really is quite simple, you can’t beat that fresh burst of life and colour after a dreary winter…….you only have a small window of oportunity to take action before Jack Frost comes along!  Read on to learn how…….

Prepare soil:  Means in the main, take out the weeds and add some muck or compost.

Drainage: Bulbs don’t like to be soggy (well most of them don’t).  If you have a heavy clay soil, dig in
horticultural grit.  Also bulbs grown in pots need good drainage so put plenty of crocks in the bottom and use a well-drained compost.

Quality: When buying bulbs, go for the fattest, firmest & biggest – be greedy!

Quantity: Be greedy again……. For sheer flower-power, bulbs are a relatively cheap plant, so don’t stint on the quantities. Even if you have a ‘bijou’ garden, massed plantings of a limited number of varieties is always most effective (think less is more when choosing colours/varieties). As a rough guide in pots, allow for a dozen tulips per 12in container.

Dig deep:  Bulbs should be planted in holes three to four times as deep as the bulb itself. So, for example, a 1in crocus bulb needs to be planted in a hole 3-4in deep.

Bulb planters:  Great if you have a few to plant, however I find the easiest (and least wrist damaging) is to grab your fork, dig over the soil a little to loosen it up, then literally ‘chuck’ (“Jamie Oliver style”) a few bulbs in the hole, ensure they are the right way up and then place the soil back, plant a good handful with each dig –otherwise you will get bored!

Which way up?  It’s usually the ‘pointy bit’ facing up, if you really are not sure then plant the bulb on its side: its stem will find its own way up. Also on heavy soils the bulbs often rot during their first year. Placing the bulbs in the ground on their side will prevent water entering at the top and reduce the likelihood of them rotting (but not as much as adding grit will help avoid the rotting).

Pot trick:  Fill large plastic pots with your favorite bulbs and, just before they are about to flower, use them to plug holes in the border. Plastic pots can also be slipped inside more elegant terracotta ones and whipped out when the bulbs are over. Store the pots behind a shed to allow the foliage to die down, keep them weed-free, top-dress with a layer of compost in the autumn, and bring them out again the following year.

Watch out squirrels about:  The biggest demolisher of bulbs, is the squirrel. Although they dig up daffodils they don’t eat them. But they have a ravenous appetite for crocus and tulips. Planting the bulbs deeper than normal can help. Bulbs are most vulnerable after planting, when the soil is easy for squirrels to dig. Chicken-wire placed over the pot, or the freshly dug soil, will deter them.

Monty says….. (HRH Monty Don of course) says think of bulbs as annuals and that
way you will not be disappointed if they do not re-appear the following year as
you thought they might)! But I am sure they will ;o)


Crocus have just reduced all of their stock so grab yourself some bargains – http://www.crocus.co.uk/plants/_/bulbs/plcid.325/

Alliums are amongst my favourite, take a look at http://www.sarahraven.com/shop/plants-and-seedlings/for-autumn-planting/alliums.html


More bulb info in a few days……