Tips for planting flower bulbs for spring

Flower bulbs need to be planted now so they are ready to burst into flower at the right time. Here’s how to get the best results.

• Choose bulbs that are suited to your climate and think about timing, perhaps planting different species or different varieties that provide a succession of flowering.
• bulbs love free-draining soil and, with the exception of a few such as bluebells, snowdrops and fritillaria that like dappled shade, they prefer a sunny position.
• Plant in pots if you’re stuck for a good garden position, but remember that spring- flowering bulbs must have a cold period to produce nice long stems and big flowers. Don’t plant your pot and then place it in a warm sunny position as pots warm up quickly, even in winter sun, and you can really confuse your bulbs. Shade the pots or keep them in a cool place until the shoots are 5-6cm high, then bring them out into the sun.

Bluebells prefer to grow in shade.

• use a quality mix when planting in pots which will drain well and also have enough fertiliser to get the bulbs through winter. Bulbs don’t need much fertiliser at planting, but when the growth rockets away in spring, give them a good feed of bulb fertiliser, or any quality slow-release fertiliser.
• follow the planting instructions that come with your bulbs, especially notes about planting depth and winter cooling. They’re so easy to grow successfully if you take a little time to do it right.
• don’t remove the leaves at this time – yes, they do look messy, but those leaves are the bulbs’ solar panels and if you remove them then you cut off all their energy and they will not be able to regain enough strength to flower well next season.

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