You're and newbie who's bought your Autumn bulbs, but have no idea where to start with planting them. It can be a bit daunting when you're an inexperienced gardener, but you're not to worry as this guide will escort you through the process, smoothly and simply.
How many bulbs can you plant together?
Quite often people will ask how many bulbs they can plant together to get a good show of flowers. Well, the trick is, it's not really about how many bulbs you buy; it's more about the technique involved when planting them...
You do not want to plant your bulbs sparsely or uniformly- it wouldn't look natural. That's why we say its always best to plant in clumps (or in other words, plant your bulbs in little, scattered, close groups). Though we do provide instructions on how close to plant each bulb, it's sometimes recommended to plant them even closer than what we say, as to be doubly sure you don't end up with that sparse look.
- Plant Allium bulbs in groups of three
- Place Daffodils and Tulips in groups of ten-twelve
- Plant Crocus bulbs in groups very close to each other- this will provide a gorgeous Spring show
- Always use 25-50 bulbs when wanting an impressive flower show.
What month should I plant bulbs?
When to plant Spring flowering bulbs
Spring flowering bulbs, such as Daffodils, Fritillary, and Tulips, can be planted in either September, October, or November. Some types will even tolerate being planted in December- but it is best to plant before there is a risk of frosts, so the bulbs have enough time to produce roots (once they have developed roots, the bulbs will become rather frost resilient).
When to plant Summer flowering bulbs
It is best to plant Summer flowering bulbs as soon as possible after you get them- between February and April. This will give them a big head start.
We highly recommend keeping the potted bulbs in a greenhouse/cold frame, as they are vulnerable to frosty weather- once the risk of frost has passed, you are able to move them outdoors.
How deep do bulbs need to be planted?
To begin with, you will have to cultivate the soil down to about 12"-14" deep, making sure that the soil is able to drain nicely. If you have a clay-based soil, we highly recommend adding some organic compost to increase its drainage.
After this, it is time to add in some nutrients to help boost the bulbs' growth, and ensure they will bloom nicely. You will need to begin with finding out how deep you need to plant the bulbs. It all depends on which bulbs you have chosen- the key is found in the size of the bulbs...
The general rule most gardeners go by is that the bulb planting depth should be about 2-3 times bigger than the length of the bulb. Please note that you cannot plant too deep, as this will doubtlessly lead to no flowering bulbs- and what's the use in that? Though if you are a newbie, don't worry- you can always dig them back up the following year and replant them the appropriate depth.
How to store bulbs
It is only recommended to lift and store bulbs if it is necessary and practical. Any bulbs that are planted in borders/containers, have naturalised in grass, or are coming up through shrubs/perennials, can be left in the garden throughout the dormant season.
On other terms, once the flowers' foliage has died down, you can carefully lift the bulbs out and clean them off. Trim the roots back, and remove any of the flaking, outer layers.
You can only store healthy, relatively large sized bulbs- any diseased/damaged bulbs cannot be kept and must be disposed of.
Once you have removed the bulbs from the soil, lay out on a tray for 24 hours to help dry them out- this will prevent any potential fungal rots from developing during storage. After this has been done, place the bulbs in nets or paper bags (making sure you label them, too!), and then store in a cool, dry place- i.e., in your garage or garden shed.
Of course, you want to be able to enjoy your flower bulbs for as long as you can, so this means knowing the difference between having Spring bulbs as annuals, and Spring bulbs as perennials.
Spring bulbs as annuals
Not all Spring bulbs will return in bloom year after year. Annual bulbs, e.g., Tulips or Hyacinths, will always look their very best in the first Spring after planting. After one Spring, however, it is likely that you will get less flowers, and what you do get will probably be much smaller in size.
If you are wanting a lovely show of Spring flowers every year, however, we recommend planting fresh bulbs every Autumn.
Annual bulbs will need to be dug up once they have finished flowering. Simply use a garden fork, and gently lift the bulbs up and put them into the compost. Plant your new bulbs in the Autumntime.
Growing annual bulbs does have an advantage- it means you will be guaranteed with gorgeous, showy Spring displays, as well as getting the fun of mixing up colours and styles, every single year!
Spring bulbs as perennials
Some flower bulbs, like Crocus, Snowdrops, and Daffodils, will re-flower year after year, and produce more and more as the years go by. They are amazingly carefree too! You do not need to fertilise, divide, or deadhead them- unless it becomes too overcrowded, then you may have to spread some of them out.
Removing spent flowers
Flowers such as Crocus, Hyacinth, and Snowdrops tend to multiply both by bulb offsets and by seed. If you are wanting to encourage naturalising, it is best to enable the flowers' seeds to ripen by leaving the flowers attached.
On the other hand, if you are growing flowers such as tulips, it is best to trim away the flowers immediately after they fade. In terms of daffodils, it does not matter whether you trim the spent flowers off or leave them on- it is totally up to you. For other flowers such as Alliums, however, they will usually self-sow, so if you do not want this to happen then you will need to remove the flower heads once they fade.
Hiding or removing bulb foliage
Flower bulbs will always use their foliage to produce enough energy to form new flowers the following year.
If you are wanting your bulbs to re-bloom, it is very important that you leave the foliage on the flowers until it has turned yellow. You will know it is time to remove the foliage when it can be pulled away just from a gentle tug.
In terms of perennial bulbs, let the foliage from other plants hide the withering leaves- or simply plant the bulbs somewhere you don't mind the dying, yellow foliage being seen. For instance, in your vegetable garden.
Planting bulbs isn't so daunting now, is it? You just need to pick the right bulbs (depending on whether you want to buy new ones every year, or not), and use the right method- remembering to only plant in clumps, not uniformed rows.
Still need to choose your Autumn bulbs? Check out our lovely range here.