Planting spring flowering bulbs

It’s a fact of life: to enjoy the glorious bulb flowers that bloom in spring – such as tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocus and others – you must plant them in the autumn. That’s the hard fact. The fun fact is that nothing is easier to grow or more colourfully rewarding than flower bulbs. Even the most unskilled gardener can create a breathtaking and beautiful spring garden with flower bulbs.

When to plant flower bulbs

The best time to plant flower bulbs is from September to December. Spring-flowering bulbs must be planted in the autumn because they require a sustained “dormant” period of cold temperatures to stimulate root development. The only rule is that, spring-flowering flower bulbs must be planted before the first hard frost. It’s best to plant flower bulbs as soon as possible after bringing them home. If you must store them, keep them dry and cool – between 10 and 15 degrees (°C).

Planting bulbs

Tempting Choices

In addition to tulips and daffodils, you’ll also want to plant other exotic Dutch flower bulbs, such as spring-flowering Scilla, Puschkinia, Muscari, Fritillaria, Allium, Camassia, and Eremurus. Spring-flowering flwoer bulbs offer a wide variety of colours, heights and flowering periods. Let your imagination run wild. Easy-to-grow bulbs allow you to concentrate on garden design. All you really need to learn about planning your garden is written on the package, or available from your bulb supplier. What you need to know is: the colour of the flower, which months it will bloom, how high it will grow, what month to plant, and how deep to plant.

Here are some professional planting tips

Most spring-flowering Dutch flower bulbs will thrive in either full or partial sun, but do just fine in almost any location that offers good drainage. Flower bulbs will rot in standing water so avoid areas prone to flooding, such as the bottom of hills or under drainpipes.

After choosing the site:

  • Dig either a trench for a bed planting, or individual holes for individual flower bulbs or small cluster of flower bulbs. To determine how deep to plant, consider the calibre or size of the flower bulb. Large flower bulbs (5 cm or more) are usually planted about 15 cm deep; smaller-size flower bulbs (2.5 cm) are planted 7-10 cm deep.

low-growing bulbs such as hyacinths for higher-flowering bulbs such as the tulip.

  • Loosen the soil with a rake to aerate it and remove any weeds and small stones. Mix in a bit of peat moss to improve soil drainage. Place – do not push – bulbs firmly in the soil with the pointed side up. Space large bulbs 7-20 cm apart and small bulbs 3-7 cm apart. (If you’re not sure which end is right side up, don’t worry. Upside-down flower bulbs usually come up anyway!)

Cluster of tulips in garden

  • Cover the flower bulbs with soil and water generously, if the soil is not wet yet. Add 5-7 cm of mulch, pine bark is fine, on top of the garden bed. This will provide added protection from the cold and keeps the soil from drying out.

It’s as easy as 1-2-3. By following these simple guidelines, your colourful garden is sure to turn the neighbours green with envy. Basically it all boils down to: buy those flower bulbs, put them in the ground and dream all winter of the glorious spring that awaits you.

Step 1
Dig a hole in which to plant them or, you might want to make individual holes to plant individual bulbs or small clusters of bulbs.

Step 2
Remove weeds and small stones from the vicinity of the hole. Put the bulbs gently into the hole with their 'noses' pointed upward. Arrange large bulbs 7 to 20 cm apart and small bulbs 3 to 7 cm apart.

Step 3
Cover the bulbs with soil and, if the soil is dry, provide some water.