Gardening with Children

School Zone

Plant bulbs for Spring colour, fragrance and food for insects

Date Posted: 01 September 2016

Bulbs must be one of the easiest and the most rewarding things to grow, simply plant, wait and then be amazed at their striking colour and varied forms, they don’t need regular watering or any special care they practically take care of themselves.


Bulbs can be bought in garden centres, supermarkets and on the high street but if you are looking for something just that little bit different have a look at the online retailers where your will find hundreds of varieties of bulbs many that you have never heard of or seen before, it’s great fun trying something new or unusual. Now is the time to get your bulbs, buy early and pick the best, choose bulbs that are firm, undamaged and disease/mould free.

Snakeshead Fritillary

Which varieties will you choose?

There are many different Spring bulbs, choose a mixture which will flower at different times or stick to the same sort and plant in mass for impact. Daffodils, Tulips, Crocus, Snowdrops, Bluebells, Hyacinth, Iris are the most well-known bulbs but why not consider some of the smaller less well known bulbs such as Fritillaria, Anemone, Muscari and Camassia.

Bluebells in front garden

How and when to plant

Generally bulbs prefer a rich and well-drained soil in a sunny position, native species such as daffodils, snowdrops and bluebells enjoy damp and shade, Tulips which originate from Turkey and Iran need a very well drained, sunny sheltered position to thrive. Most bulbs need to be planted two or three times their own depth (measure from their pointed tip to their broad base) and although it might sound obvious the right way up, Anemones have very misshaped bulbs making it hard to tell their top and bottom, it is just a case of making an estimated guess. Plant bulbs in September/October, Tulips should be planted later in October/November.


Where to plant

Aim to plant bulbs in groups of at least six, they can be planted in the flower border, rock gardens, in formal gardens or naturalised under trees, in a wooded area (snowdrops, bluebells) or in the lawn (crocus, miniature daffodils), for natural planting grab a handful of bulbs and scatter them planting them where they fall, bulbs can be grown in pots in the greenhouse or in a cold frame and brought inside to flower, or planted in containers with winter bedding plants and shrubs for a Spring display by the front door or on the patio.


I you dont have a garden grow bulbs on the windowsill, Hyacinths are my favourite they are packed with perfume and can be started off now for a stunning Christmas display they would make a wonderful present too, for full growing instructions click here.

hyacinths flowering in pots


Mixed planted containers will need watering, dead heading and feeding to extend their flowering season, pot grown bulbs need to be deadheaded when the flowers have finished, placed somewhere frost free and watered until the leaves have died back naturally they can then be planted out in the garden as they will not produce as good a display the following year. Bulbs that are planted in the ground should have any dead flowers removed to stop them producing seed and their leaves left to die back naturally.


Food for Bees and Insects

Bulbs provide food for bees and emerging insects at a time when there are very few plants in flower, giving them a vital and much needed source of nectar and pollen.




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