Planting bulbs is one of the easiest yet most rewarding ways to create an impressive floral display in your garden, whether in borders or planters – all that is needed is a little patience! While many might think that there isn’t much to be done in the garden in Autumn, September and October are actually the best months to start planning your spring displays and planting some bulbs in preparation for next season.
Select your bulbs
There are many varieties and colours to choose from when it comes to planning your spring displays. Early spring flowering bulbs, such as daffodils, crocus and hyacinths, will bring a welcome early injection of colour to the garden and will need planting before the end of September. For summer-flowering bulbs, such as lilies and alliums, these should be planted in September and October. Tulips are a spring favourite, and can be planted later in the season up until the end of November.
When you purchase your bulbs, they should be planted as soon as possible, as prolonged storage will cause them to rot. A healthy bulb should be dry, with no leaves or roots beginning to grow before it is put in the ground. The longer you wait to plant them, the more likely it is that they’ll struggle to flower next season!
Planting in borders
Before planting, the first task is to prepare the soil by turning it over, removing any debris and adding organic matter. Once it’s ready for bulbs, simply dig a hole wide and deep enough for your bulb. Most bulbs need to be planted two to three times their own depth, but always check the instructions. Place the bulbs in the hole flat end down, so that the point is upwards, as that’s where the stem will grow from!
Generally, you should plant bulbs in groups of no less than six so that the display looks impressive! It’s best to position them grouped in a bunch rather than a straight line. Then simply replace the soil, gently firming it down with your hand and generously watering. Your bulbs won’t require any fertiliser during their dormant state, but you should feed them once with a high-potassium feeder, like Phostrogen’s All Purpose Plant Food, when planted, and then again when you start to see shoots appearing at half strength every seven to ten days.
Planting in containers
Bulbs with larger, extravagant flowers work particularly well in containers as they deliver a concentrated burst of colour in your garden, however most bulbs will create a beautiful display! You can get away with planting bulbs closer together in pots and containers, and we recommend using a lasagne technique to layer different types of bulbs which will flower at different points in the season. Plant the bulbs that will flower last at the bottom of the pot and the earliest flowering bulbs at the top to ensure you always have a riot of colour on display.