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Autumn Bulb Planting

Inboxes and letter boxes will soon be getting full to the brim with bulb catalogues. Paper ones and digital ones offering all manner of autumn planting bulbs to order and plant up whilst they then lay dormant waiting to put on a fine display in the spring.

Here are a few things to consider when thinking about bulbs:

What to plant now.

Plant spring-flowering bulbs, such as daffodils, crocus and hyacinths, preferably by the end of September, lilies, alliums and crocosmia, in September and October and tulips in November.

Where to plant them.

Most hardy bulbs, including tulips and daffodils, prefer a warm, sunny site with good drainage as they originate from areas with drier, warmer weather.

Bulbs from cool, moist, woodland habitats, such as bluebells, need similar garden conditions. Improve light or sandy soils with garden compost and heavy soils with compost and some grit.

How to plant them.

Most bulbs are bought and planted when they’re in a dormant, leafless, and rootless state. Plant them as soon as you get them.

If you’re planting in borders then aim to plant in groups of at least six, as the more bulbs that are grouped together, the better the display. After all you don’t want your daffodils wandering as lonely as a cloud………..

Dig a hole wide and deep enough for your bulbs. Plant most bulbs at two to three times their depth. If the bulb is 2 inches high, dig a hole 4 – 6 inches deep and sit the bulb in the bottom of it. Place the bulbs in the hole with the shoot, facing upwards. Space them at least twice the bulb’s own width apart.

Replace the soil and gently firm with the back of a rake. Don’t tread on the soil as this can damage the bulbs. If the ground is moist or the bulbs are autumn-planted, watering is not critical. If it’s not then water straight after planting.

Planting in a container.

Most bulbs are ideal for growing in containers, but this especially suits those with large, showy flowers, such as tulips, lilies, arum lilies and alliums.

If your bulbs are only going to spend one season in their container then use a mix of three parts multi-purpose compost with one part grit. For long-term container displays, use three parts John Innes No 2 compost mixed with one part grit.

Plant the bulbs at three times their depth and one bulb width apart and then water them once after planting and check the pots in winter to ensure they do not dry out completely.

A bulb lasagne.

Someone we once knew tried it with tulips a few years back. By layering your bulbs and planting them in the way that we’ve described you can easily create a planting display that will reward you with a succession of flowers throughout the spring.

Choose the ones you like the most and plant the bulbs that need to be planted the deepest first – look at that earlier picture.

Then add some of that compost we talked about, add another layer of the next depth of bulbs, more compost, more bulbs and so on.

There you go. Get planting!


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