Flower bulbs are perfect for adding colour to your borders and containers without taking up much space. Spring bulbs are easy to plant between September and November, rewarding you with a beautiful display of exuberant blooms the following year, giving the first indication spring has arrived! Summer bulbs are planted in spring, when the soil is beginning to warm up, before providing beautiful blooms in summer and, for some varieties, into the autumn. These versatile beauties are generally best planted in full sun with certain varieties growing in shade too. Bulbs store their energy and nutrients below ground at the end of the growing season. They’re like a little battery with the flower and the leaves right in the middle, ready to burst into life at the start of their growing season. Bulbs need a free draining soil to make sure they don’t rot - on heavy clay soils incorporate two buckets of coarse sand per square metre. Plant in individual holes for each bulb or a trench if you’re planting many bulbs in one go. Aim to plant as soon as possible after purchase.
Spring Flowering Bulbs
Spring bulbs are perfect for brightening up your garden when little else is in bloom. Some of the most popular spring bulbs are tulips, daffodils, crocus, alliums, hyacinth and iris. They’re available in a rainbow of colours with flowering periods through spring into summer.
Summer Flowering Bulbs
Summer bulbs are planted in spring, when the soil is beginning to warm up, before providing beautiful blooms in summer and, for some varieties, into the autumn. Some of the best summer flowering bulbs are begonia, dahlia, gladioli and lilies. Bergenia (Elephant Ears) are evergreen perennials with wonderful, large cabbage-like leaves producing erect clusters of red, white or pinky-purple bell-shaped flowers on 25-30cm erect stalks in summer. Dahlias are the highlight of the late summer garden, well-loved for their long flowering period and eye-catching blooms in a rainbow of colours. Gladiolus are like a summer tulip in many ways and just as easy to grow, they originate from hot, dry climates so require good drainage and plenty of sun. No garden is complete without at least one magnificent lily. They’re available in a wide range of shapes and colours, effective for filling gaps between shrubs in the border or patio containers. Easy to grow providing they have good drainage – incorporate grit on heavy soils.
Popular Flower Bulbs
Bulbs are one of the easiest ways to fill your garden with beautiful, bold colours. Choose a mix of different types to create an uplifting display in borders, beds, pots and containers. Britain’s favourite flower bulbs are popular for good reason with exceptional flower forms, beautiful colours and reliability. Some of the most popular spring flowering bulbs are alliums, crocus, daffodils, hyacinth, iris and tulips. Daffodils are highly recognisable with their vibrant yellow flowers, now available in a range of whites and soft pinks too, while hyacinths are well-loved for their richly perfumed, single or double flowers. Favourite summer bulbs include bergenia, caladiums, dahlias, gladiolus and lilies. Dahlias are well-loved for their long flowering period and eye-catching blooms in a rainbow of colours while lilies are perfect for filling gaps between shrubs in the border or in patio containers. Most bulbs prefer a free draining soil in good light conditions.
Fragrant Flower Bulbs
There is nothing better than the rich, heady scent of hyacinth or the sweet fragrance of crocus, daffodil, tulip and muscari bulbs to enliven the senses! By combining these beautifully scented bulbs in large drifts (for informal style gardens) or rows (for more formal planting schemes) you can bolster the fragrance all the more. Hyacinths are well-loved for their richly perfumed, single or double flowers, which may be held in loose of dense racemes. They’re available in a range of vibrant and pastel colours from bright pink to soft blue and particularly popular for growing outdoors in containers or forcing indoors to flower in time for Christmas. Crocus are another delightfully fragrant bulb available in both spring and autumn flowering varieties. Crocus flowers will bring the first flush of colour to your garden in early spring. They’re effective planted in the border, containers and particularly well suited to naturalising grassed areas. Alternatively, choose Muscari for blue, urn-shaped flowers resembling bunches of grapes in the spring.
Easy to Grow Flower Bulbs
For gardeners who have been waiting all winter to see green shoots and colourful blooms again, there is nothing more welcome that the sight of early spring bulbs pushing up through the earth and gracing us with their fabulous flowers. The great thing about bulbs is they’re so easy to grow. Simply pop them into the ground at the required depth in a sunny, well-drained soil spot, cover over and wait patiently for their blooming time. Spring bulbs are easy to plant between September and November an, as the name suggests, will flower in spring. Summer bulbs are then planted in spring, when the soil is beginning to warm up, before providing beautiful blooms in summer and, for some varieties, into the autumn.
Flower Bulb Guides
Guides to the different types of flower bulbs, some of the best varieties, when, where, and how to grow in the border or containers. We cover all the common questions such as planting density, planting depth and planting times by different varieties, along with plenty of ideas and inspiration for using bulbs in your own garden.
Our comprehensive guide to growing flower bulbs in your garden, covering everything you need to know from what bulbs are, when, where and how to plant, planting densities and depths, container growing and the best varieties.
Most people use the word “bulb” to refer to any plant that stores nutrients and energy in an underground storage structure at the end of the growing season, allowing it to spring back into life after winter when the next growing season comes around.
Bulbs are an excellent addition to any garden. They provide a splash of colour in your borders throughout the year, many can also be planted in containers to provide a burst of colour anywhere in your garden, or even in your lawn.
Spring bulbs flower in the spring and should be planted between September and November. Summer bulbs flower in the summer and are generally planted in mid to late spring. Read this guide for more details on the best time to plant different types and varieties of bulbs.
Bulbs can be planted in a wide range of locations including the garden border, flower beds, pots and containers, lawns, long grassy areas, naturalised spaces, formal planting schemes or even shaded areas. We share some ideas and inspiration of where you can plant bulbs in your own garden.
Bulbs can be effective in various different planting schemes, spanning borders, containers, grassed areas, formal planting schemes, naturalised meadow-like plantings and even the tricky shaded areas under the canopies of trees.
Combining bulbs with companion plants is a great way to keep up the display and interest as your bulbs start to fade. Choose companion plants with similar growing condition preferences as your bulbs. Perennials that are short when bulbs are in bloom work well.
Guide to planting bulbs at the best depth to get the best flowering display. Plant too deep and flowers will late or not at all & you'll get more foliage and few flowers. If planted too shallow, new growth will be vulnerable to frost damage.
Most flower bulbs are ideal for growing in containers with showy flowers such as Tulips and Alliums in particular making beautiful statements. Use a good quality multi-purpose compost in your containers combined with a handful of grit to improve drainage.
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