Planting with bulbs is one my favourite things to do in the garden. Reviewing the spots where I want those spring and summer displays of colour and knowing that in the new year, I’ll be rewarded with large flowering displays that are vibrant and cheery.
These 10 bulb varieties can be planted in autumn to give you large displays for your summer or spring gardens…
1. Ornithogalum magnum (star of Bethlehem)
Firstly, this beautiful late spring-flowering bulb, Ornithogalum produces clusters of star shaped flowers to brighten up the garden. Best situated in a sunny spot, it can grow up to 80cm (32in) in height.
Where to plant
Happy in all soil types just ensure it is well-drained, but do not eat the leaves or flowers because they can cause discomfort.
2. Fritillaria persica (fritillary bulb) ‘Black Persian lily’
Next up is the dark bell-shaped flowers of Fritillaria persica which will provide a dramatic contrast to your spring borders. It can grow up to 1.5m (5ft) in height, so will look striking as a focal point plant or at the back of your border display. Plant in full sun in well drained soil.
When to plant
You can start planting in September through to November for flowering in spring and be sure to protect from slugs and snails when new foliage appears.
3. Fritillaria imperialis (crown imperial)
The following bulb is native to the mountainous areas of Turkey, Iran and Kashmir, providing warm orange displays in spring. When planted in autumn in a sunny spot, it’ll grow to 1m (40in) tall. Although, if you have clay soil, planting in a container display will be a pretty and practical option.
They require room for a good root system, so when planting in the ground you need to plant at a minimum depth of 30cms of 1ft, otherwise in subsequent years you fritillaria may not flower.
4. Fritillaria imperialis (crown imperial) ‘Lutea’
A particularly hardy bulb, ‘Lutea’ produces a rich yellow flowering display. Growing to around 90cm (35in) tall, it prefers a sunny spot.
They are not a fan of clay soil due to its poor drainage, so container planting is a good compromise if your garden is majorly clay soil. Be careful of slugs and snails.
5. Allium aflatunense
This allium, with its onion-garlic scent, will give your garden a rich pink-purple display in springtime. These bulbs will grow up to 1m in height and like a sunny position.
Where to plant
They like well-drained soil, so steer clear of clay soil for these bulbs – again you’ll need a container if clay is prevalent in your garden.
6. Camassia leichtlinii (Californian white-flowered quamash)
Camassia has creamy-white or violet-blue star shaped flowers. Plant this bulb in a sunny but sheltered spot where it will grow up to 1m in height.
Clay gardeners you’ll need to pot up in a container as it needs well drained soil to thrive. These blooms look great in any informal or cottage style garden or a wildflower meadow.
7. Crinum moorei (lily of the Orinoco)
Next up for your large display, Crinum adds a touch of class to the garden with showy funnel shaped flowers. However, they are a little less hardy than some of the other plants on the list, so they are really only suitable to gardens in the milder climates of the UK.
They can grow up to 1m in height and like to be in full sun but sheltered from the wind. Similar to above, gardeners with clay soils will need to grow them in a container. Once they start growing keep an eye out for slugs and snails. It’s advised to wear gloves when planting and handling too.
8. Crinum x powellii (swamp lily)
With common name of swamp lily, you wouldn’t quite expect to see something as lovely. Producing a pink-white funnel shaped flower they can grow up to 1.5m tall. Planted in full sun, in a sheltered spot these fragrant blooms will flourish. Hardier than Crinum moorei, they’ll be okay unless we have a very colder winter.
As with its sister plant, clay soils are a no go so container growing is best. Once they start growing keep an eye out for slugs and snails, and once again wear gloves when planting and handling.
9. Galtonia candicans (summer hyacinth)
The green-silvery foliage and bell-shaped white flowers of Galtonia are perfect summer flowering bulbs to lift the mood, not only are they visually beautiful but the flowers are slightly fragrant.
As long as they are in full sun, in a sheltered spot in any soil type – yes even clay, they will grow well. In addition, they are hardy to temperatures as low as -10C.
10. Gladiolus murielae (Abyssinian gladiolus)
Finally, Gladiolus murielae is a summer bulb that will provide lots of joy with their purple starred centre and white petals. Best planted in full sun in a sheltered spot, they’ll grow up to 1m in height.
Furthermore, they are happy in all soil types except clay (containers required). Also, it is only really suitable to the milder or coastal areas of the UK. Although, they’ll need protection from thrips, aphids and slugs once it starts to develop.
So, get planting these bulbs and the large flowering displays will greet you in spring and summer.
David Domoney is a Chartered Horticulturalist, Broadcaster, and Author. David has worked with a number of the UK’s leading garden retailers as a plant buyer and strategic consultant. With more than 30 years experience, in horticulture, David is as passionate about plants now as he was when he bought his first plant at a village fete.
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