Flower bulbs are low maintenance, and add loads of blooming value and colour to your borders, containers, woodland, orchard and the base of hedging at times of the year when there is little else to see; early spring flowering bulbs are also good for bees. It is normal for our customers who bought a "plain hedge" or group of trees a few years ago to come back to order a spread of bulbs that totally reinvigorates their project.
All bulbs need to be planted promptly in soil with adequate drainage, ideally with some organic matter added, and enough light in their early spring growing season, which is when the leaves are off deciduous trees anyway. If your soil depth is a problem, their shallow roots are perfect for mounds, and several varieties are especially adapted to rockeries and pots.
All our bulbs are premium quality sizes, which is what really distinguishes them from bulbs in some shops that may be cheaper.
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Use taller narcissi and daffodils where there is long grass, and dwarf daffodils, snowdrops, and crocuses where it is short. Bluebells do best under deciduous trees or beside hedging that casts enough shadow to stop grass growing entirely. Tulips naturalise well, but are probably at their best, along with alliums, in borders and containers.
Make your dry bulb planting plan early, in about May, when your memory of the bare patches in borders and woodland areas are still fresh. Mark where you want to see your different varieties of bulbs when they are actually in flower, perhaps with labelled bamboo canes. When planting time comes in Autumn, you will be able to see right where you want your cyclamen, even though other plants are growing over that spot at that time in the year.
Most bulbs thrive in soil that is not very rich, but is moisture retentive and at the same time drains well, although snowdrops will be fine in quite soggy situations on banks beside water. If the ground is poor and dry, the best improver is leaf mould, which has low fertility and high moisture retention (and it's easy to make at home...in advance), or else use garden compost, and then mulch well every year.
For an easy natural look, scatter handfuls of dry bulbs on the ground and dig where they fall. Bury them under at least twice their height in soil, which means the hole should be three times as deep as the bulb is tall (e.g. a 5cm tall bulb likes a 15cm deep hole). If in doubt, too deep is better than too shallow.
Bulbs in the green need to be handled with more care, and you plant at the same depth as they were grown, which is where the white part of the stem turns green. If in doubt, planting too shallow is better than too deep, so a wee bit of white stem visible above the soil is fine. On average, there will be about 8 to 10 cm of plant below ground.
An overcrowded clump of bulbs produces fewer flowers. Mark it with a cane, then lift and divide it when the foliage has almost completely died down, and the plants have stored all the energy that their leaves gathered that year down in their bulbs, which gives them the best chance of hitting the ground running in their new home.
Bulbs in the Green Guide
Planting Daffodils: How and When to Plant Daffodils & Narcissi
Tulips: Choosing and Growing Tulips