As the leaves have just begun to fall, most gardeners will already be wistfully dreaming of those first spring blooms. And funnily enough, autumn is actually the perfect time to get your spring bulbs in, because the soil is still warm and will allow them to develop their root system, which in turn allows them to flower in spring rather than summer.
Watch the following video to see my top tips for planting them, and read on to see my top 8 favourite spring flowering bulbs that never fail to put a spring back in your step.
Your spring flowers popping up signals the rebirth of the garden and the start of a new growing season. Nothing lifts the spirits after a long, dark winter more than the sight of the first daffodils opening up.
So, to help you lift the gloom of the ever-shortening days, I’ve put together a quick guide on how to plant your spring flowering bulbs, and 8 of my favourites. The planting is an easy process, and many spring bulbs are incredibly resilient, finding their way to the surface even if they get planted sideways – so don’t worry if you haven’t done it before.
How to plant them:
• Loosen the soil you wish to plant in with a trowel.
• Use some bulb fibre to create some fresh, fertile soil for the roots.
• Look at the diameter of the flower bulb, and dig a hole about two and a half times as deep.
If you are planting a large
number of bulbs together, you
need to create a larger
• Once you have dug your hole, line the base with a layer of grit or sand. Then plant the bulb using the ‘lightbulb’ technique – push and twist it into the soil.
• Use the soil and compost you have dug up to cover up the bulb.
• Label where you have planted them.
So now you’ve got the know-how, here are my top eight bulbs for spring colour – they are sure to make your garden sing!
Top 8 Spring Flowering Bulbs
The daffodil is the epitome of spring colour. They work in borders, around shrubs and poking up through lawns too. They are versatile and will grow in most soil types in sun or partial shade. For classic yellow, try the native Tenby daffodil, or ‘Ice Follies’ has creamy petals and a yellow centre.
Tulips provide a welcome hit of rich colour in spring. They look especially stunning in containers, planted up with other bulbs for a mixed ‘lasagne’ effect. It will grow in any soil, but doesn’t like it too dry. Try a showy bloom like hot pink ‘Burgundy Lace’, or enjoy the frilly petals of ‘Swan Wings’.
These are always a happy sight in late winter and early spring, awakening the rest of the garden with their nodding flower heads. Snowdrops grow vigorously into clumps and thrive in moist soil. They will bloom in shady spots and are ideal under trees. Plant the native species, Galanthus elwesii.
Sprouting from a corm rather than a true bulb, there are loads of spring crocus varieties to try, and most prefer a sunny sheltered site with gritty soil. For a sprinkling of purple as early as February, try the ‘Vanguard’ variety. Or grow ‘Jeanne d’Arc’ for large white goblet flowers and orange stamen.
(Armenian Grape Hyacinth)
The grape hyacinth makes for a striking and unusual container display. Its exotic rattle-shaped indigo flowers are sometimes also tinged with white. These plants will grow vigorously in full sun or partial shade and well-drained soil.
(Early Bulbous Iris)
Perfect for frilly flowers and early colour, iris looks best planted in clusters. Keep low-growing varieties at the front of the border, or raise them in pots to appreciate their colours and markings. ‘Katherine Hodgkin’ has pale blue petals with yellow centres, or ‘Harmony’ has royal blue flowers with white and yellow patterns.
The Striped Squill is a scilla relative that grows in most conditions, including sun or partial shade, as long as the soil is not too dry. It has delicate star-shaped flowers with a blue line down each petal. Try it in between dormant plants or in patio pots.
Hyacinths are fantastically fragrant, and this particular variety has a very unusual violet flower sprig. They grow well both indoors and outdoors and suit containers as well as flower beds. You can also buy specially prepared bulbs that have been heat-treated that will bloom at Christmas.
Once you’ve chosen a variety of bulbs that you like, plant them haphazardly in amongst your borders for a beautifully undone look come spring, or organise them neatly into a layered display for a more dazzling effect.
Planting spring flowering bulbs in autumn is a quick and simple job, which with a little patience, brings huge rewards. Why not get the kids to help you? It’s a great way to teach them about how plants grow, and they’ll wait with eager anticipation to see the results of their handiwork in spring.
If you have any questions about planting spring flowering bulbs, please don’t hesitate to get in touch in the comments below, or via social media: