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How to Plant Bulbs, Corms and Tubers

How to plant bulbs, corms and tubers

When you receive your bulbs, corms or tubers it is best to plant them as soon as possible. If you need to delay planting then make sure you store your bulbs in a cool, frost-free place. Open the bag to allow air to circulate and to prevent moulds developing.

When to plant bulbs

As a general rule, spring flowering bulbs such as daffodils, crocus, tulips and hyacinths are planted in the autumn; and summer flowering bulbs such as gladioli, begonias and ranunculus are planted in the spring. Lilies can be planted in both the spring and the autumn. For specific information on when to plant your bulbs, refer to the item's individual product page. If you end up planting bulbs late you may have a reduced flower display so always try to plant your bulbs as soon as you receive them.

Where to plant bulbs

Bulbs generally prefer sandy, light, free-draining soils; although woodland bulbs such as bluebells, lily-of-the-valley and snowdrops prefer a rich, fertile, reliably moist soil. If you have heavy clay soil add some organic matter such as compost or well rotted manure along with grit to improve drainage and help prevent the bulbs rotting. It's also worth digging organic matter into your soil to improve fertility. Most bulbs prefer a position in full sun although woodland bulbs generally prefer some shade - check individual product descriptions for specific details.

Planting bulbs in the garden

Bulbs make the most effective display when they are planted in groups. Generally bulbs should be planted at 2-3 times their own depth and 2-3 bulb widths apart. The easiest way to do this is to dig out a large hole at 2-3 times the depth of the bulbs you're planting and place them in the hole with the pointed end (growing tip) facing upwards, spacing them at about 2-3 bulb widths apart. Cover them with soil again and gently firm in. You can also plant bulbs individually if you prefer. Take care not to tread on the soil as this might damage the growing tip of the bulbs. Water the area thoroughly afterwards and make sure that you mark the spot where they are planted so that you know exactly where they are. Hardy bulbs such as daffodils, crocus and tulips can be left in the ground over winter and they will return the following year. Summer-flowering bulbs such as gladioli, begonias and ranunculus will need to be lifted as they may not be frost-hardy or may require a dry period during winter. Refer to the individual product pages for further details. To make lifting your bulbs easier, you can plant them into bulb baskets and bury the basket where you would like the bulbs to flower.

Planting bulbs in containers

Most bulbs are suitable for growing in containers. To get the best out of your bulbs use multi-purpose compost and incorporate some grit to ensure good drainage. Plant your bulbs at 2-3 times their own depth and one bulbs width apart. It's fine to plant them closer together in containers for a fuller display. Water your bulbs regularly when they are actively growing and reduce watering when the leaves start to die down (but don't let the compost dry out completely). You will also need to feed your container bulbs with a high potash feed such as tomato fertiliser once shoots appear. Feed regularly as per the instructions on the fertiliser until the leaves start to die down at the end of the season.

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tulip border

Bulbs make the most effective display when they are planted in groups. Generally bulbs should be planted at 2-3 times their own depth and 2-3 bulb widths apart.

bulb basket

To make lifting your bulbs easier, you can plant them into bulb baskets and bury the basket where you would like the bulbs to flower.