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Spring bulbs, it's not too late!

The low temperatures have been with us for less than a week and I'm already looking forward to Spring. In particular, the early display's of sizzling scillias, captivating crocus, tremendous tulips, dazzling daffs, fabulous fritillary and happy hyacinths, ok that last one was weak.
And if like me you've not yet planted any, don't despair it's not too late.
A close up of some purple Scilla bifolia flowers

Alpine Squill

Scilla bifolia

Dutch Crocus

Crocus vernus

A red flower on a Tulipa plant growing in the wild


Tulipa spp.

Wild Daffodil

Narcissus pseudonarcissus (13 Group)

A close up of some purple checkered Fritillaria meleagris flowers in a garden

Snake's Head Fritillary

Fritillaria meleagris


Hyacinthus orientalis


Preferably we should have got our spring bulbs in back in September before the first frosts. Tulips are an exception to this rule as they store better and are generally later flowering making them fine for planting in November.
Provided the ground isn't frozen it's still possible to get the bulbs in and it's worth a go.


  • Bulbs are still available at most outlets and you need to look for the plumpest and firmest specimens.
  • If you've bought bulk bags or mixed selections sort through & discard any that are soft, shrivelled up or showing signs of mould. They just won't perform especially as we're also planting a little late.
  • Keep those that have started to sprout, just take care not to break the tips off when handling.


Bulbs look fantastic when planted on mass.
But if you don't have a mock castle and estate than drifting them through flower borders filling in the spaces between perennials works just as well.
  • Most bulbs prefer a sunny site and soil with good drainage so you might need to add compost and or grit to the planting area.
  • Personally, I like filling containers with 1 variety of flower which I can slot in and move around the garden creating an ever changing display of flowers.


  • As a rule, bulbs need to be planted 2 or 3 times their own depth e.g. a 5cm tall daffodil bulb needs to be planted 15cm deep.
  • Plant the bulb with its shoot facing upwards, if you're unsure you can plant them on their side as they will sort themselves out.
  • Space them at least twice the bulb's width apart. The exception to this rule is when you are planting in containers where they can be planted a lot closer together, just ensure they are not touching.
  • Water them in, this is not critical if the ground is moist and rain is due, which in a British autumn is likely.

In the Green

You can purchase dried bulbs of these 3 spring flowering bulbs, but I find I've had more success when I've moved, divided or planted them up straight after they have finished flowering but still have their foliage.
Most outlets will have potted spring bulbs so if you have a few failures or no shows, it is possible to "fill" the spaces in the spring.

Layering containers

If you're limited for space it is possible to plant up containers with more than 1 type of bulb. With this method it is possible to choose different types of bulbs which all flower at different times to provide a continuous display.
  • Plant the largest bulbs at the bottom of the pot and then layer up until the container is full.
The combinations are endless and can be whatever suits your colour preferences.
If you don't want to leave the container looking empty over winter then you can over plant with winter flowering violas or pansies, which will also offer some weather protection to the soil. There are so many varieties to choose from, these are just 2 listed in our knowledge base.
Tip The plants and bulbs in these containers will need feeding throughout the spring with a foliar feed sprayed onto their leaves.


Whatever you choose to plant be aware that Squirrels may dig them up, in particular, Tulips and Crocus, spreading soil (and plants) everywhere in their hunt for snacks. You can protect new plantings by placing netting over the surface but remember to remove it after the first foliage appears.

Have you been more organised than me? What combinations have you decided on? Please share your inspiration with us!

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