Spring Flowering Bulbs

One of the most important points to get spring-flowering bulbs to flower successfully, and to re- appear and flower again,  is planting at the correct depth, (see table on correct planting depths for spring bulbs) and an absence of mice or squirrels. Unfortunately, squirrels can smell the bulbs and often dig them up. If this is a problem where you are, sink some chicken wire over the bulbs to fight off the squirrels.   Although failure of spring bulbs to flower is often caused by being planted too shallow,  many tulips do not come again a second year and are best treated as annuals.

Besides planting the popular favourites  such as Narcissus (daffodil) and Tulipa (tulip)  there are many more spring-flowering bulbs to choose from including Crocus, Hyacinth, Galanthus (snowdrop) Cyclamen, Fritillaria, Iris, Muscari and Scilla. There are some images below. 

When buying spring bulbs, select those which are of a good size and firm, as if you were picking onions. 

 September is the time for planting most spring bulbs, although Hyacinth and Tulips should be left until October or even November.  There are so many spring bulbs to choose from, checkout the Pinterest pages for ideas and inspiration Tulips and also Pinterest Spring bulbs. 

What about Daffodils?

 I have a strong preference for scented Daffodils and grow both Bridal Crown and Actaea which are lovely and make good cut flowers. Scented award winning Daffodils include 'Bridal Crown' N. 'Hoopoe' yellow with scented flowers; 'Actaea' white and scented and 'My Story'.

If you are planting a display of spring bulbs,  it's worth bearing in mind the varying flowering times. For example; for both Daffodils and Tulips each have a range of flowering times including early, mid-season and late. If you want certain combinations, say pink tulips with blue 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. 

A quick rule of thumb is to plant all bulbs three times the depth of the type of bulb. This means shallower for smaller 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. 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 when they can be planted in layers when precise depth is less important provided the bulbs are not planted too shallow. 

Detailed advice 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.

Different types of Spring Flowering Bulbs

Camassia

Close up camassia

Camassia is a less commonly grown spring bulb, although one wonders why. It has lovely blue or white spires of flowers, easy to grow and tolerant of most conditions. Tips on growing Camassia.

Muscaria

White Muscaria

Muscaria tend to be looked down on in the gardening world as they are commonly grown. If the blue variety is too ubiquitous, check out the many lovely white varieties. Illustrated is Muscari aucheri 'White Magic'

Narcissus

Scented Narcissus are amongst the loveliest of  fragrant spring bulbs.

There are many types of Narcissus to choose from and amongst some of the best are the Scented Narcissus. Early flowering and fragrant they also make great cut flowers.

Fritillaria

Fritillaria meleagris, the Snake's Head Fritallaria looks beautiful naturalised in grass and will grow in damp conditions. There is also the F.imperialis and F.michailovskyi all impressive spring bulbs/

Erythronium

Dog tooth violet

Erythronium this is E. den canis also known as dog tooth violet has a delicate flower here shown naturalised on a grassy bank.

Hyacinth

Hyacinth

Hyacinths a long lasting and highly scented flowering bulb. They will return the following year and the only maintenance is a little staking to support the flower heads.

Snowdrops

Snow drop

One of our garden favourites, Snowdrops Latin name Galanthus is the earliest of the spring flowering bulbs. They make a lovely display but need some attention to get snowdrops growing.

Bluebells

Bluebell in natural setting

Bluebells Hyacinthoides non-scripta is the English bluebell and look at their best planted on mass in a woodland setting. One word of warning is that they can be invasive and plant with care.

Updated 09.03.2020