Spring flowering bulbs are easy to grow and make a welcome appearance after the winter.
The key to getting spring flowering bulbs to flower successfully, year after year, is to plant them to the correct depth, (see table on correct planting depths for spring bulbs) and little else is required, except an absence of too many mice or squirrels. A lack of flowers is often caused by being planted too shallow.
Popular favourites for spring planting are Narcissus (daffodil) and Tulipa (tulip) but there are many more to choose from including Crocus, Hyacinth, Galanthus (snowdrop) Cyclamen, Fritillaria, Iris, Muscari and Scilla.
Below are images of spring bulbs which flower at different times in the Spring. When buying bulbs choose those which are of a good size and firm, as if you were selecting onions.
September is the time for planting most spring bulbs although Hyacinth and Tulips should be left to October or even November. There are so many to choose and inspiring images can be found by checking out Tulips and also Pinterest Spring bulbs which has some great ideas.
What about Daffodils? In 2013-2014 the RHS undertook a Daffodil trial which is always a good starting point to check out good varieties to grow. The RHS recommend as best for "garden worthiness" which is being a good plant, flowering well, standing up to the rain and conditions. Those recommended with the RHS garden merit award included: Narcissus 'Hungarian Rhapsody' beautiful pink and white; N 'QueenBeastrix' strong yellow; N. 'BreezandTristar' a split corona daffodil and in the trial each stem had up to five flowers which resulted in 124 flowering stems from 10 bulbs which sounds like good value. Scented award winning Daffodils included 'Bridal Crown' a lovely pale colour with strong sweet scent; N. 'Hoopoe' yellow with scented flowers; 'Actaea' white and scented and 'My Story' illustrated centre image and very scented. I have a strong preference for scented Daffodils, and grow both Bridal Crown and Actaea which are lovely.
If you are planting a display of spring bulbs, it's worth bearing in mind the varying flowering times, for example; both Daffodils and Tulips flower at different times including early, mid season and late. If you want certain combinations, say pink tulips with forget- me- nots, you will need a late flowering Tulip. If you want a combination of say red/orange tulip with daffodil you will need to check the exact type to ensure they will flower together.
Bulbs can also provide successive colour because of their long range of flowering from the first snowdrops in January to the last Tulip in May.To plant, simply dig a small hole and plant with the pointed end up.
The important part is planting depth: a quick rule of thumb and guide is to plant the bulb three times the depth of the type of bulb. This means shallow for small bulbs, deeper for large bulbs. For example, a snowdrop, as a tiny bulb will be planted quite shallow; a large tulip planting will be deeper around 15cms. An ordinary trowel will do the job but if there are a lot of bulbs to be planted I find a long handled planter very useful. It is easier if you are planting lots of spring bulbs. With each new hole dug, the plug comes out to fill the last hole and provided the soil is not too wet and claggy it works well. All Spring flowering bulbs grow well in containers.
Detailed advise and images on how to plant spring bulbs
Of all the spring bulbs snowdrops can sometimes be tricky to get started, How to plant and grow snowdrops.