Spring Gardening Tips: How to plant bulbs

Planting bulbs is an easy way to add colour and freshness to your spring garden display with very little effort. The key to growing healthy, flowering bulbs that improve their appearance year after year is to prepare the soil adequately.

Selecting bulbs.
It’s important to choose healthy bulbs. Test bulbs for firmness and avoid bulbs that are dry, withered, blemished, mouldy or have signs of pest attack. Generally, the larger the bulb for its type, the more flowers it will have.

Choosing an appropriate location.
Most bulbs prefer sun and cool, well-drained soil. Some bulbs can accept broken shade or shade for part of the day so if you have a perfect spot that doesn’t get quite as much sun, it’s best to choose the type of bulb carefully. Bulbs such as freesias, ranunculus and sparaxis prefer sunny spots while bluebells, hyacinths and tulips are good choices for shadier areas.

Preparing to plant the bulbs. Most Spring flower bulbs require a freely draining soil. You can raise the beds to improve drainage or plant in pots if your soil is soggy. Add some compost to help keep the soil rich and friable.

Planting depth and spacing


Most bulbs need to be planted at a depth between three and five times their height and the same distance apart (usually two to three bulb widths). The pointed end of the bulb should be upwards. If winters are very cold or summers particularly dry, they must be planted even deeper.

Always check the instructions on the package for depths and distances. If you are planting bulbs in a basket, plant the basket just below soil level.

Decide whether to plant in groups or individually


You can plant bulbs in groups or singly. If you decide to plant in groups, keep in mind they generally look more natural if you plant them in informal clusters rather than regimented rows.

Planting in Groups


You can plant several bulbs in one hole. This saves time and creates a more natural, informal display, especially if groups of odd numbers are used.

Planting Singly


Plant each bulb in a separate hole at the correct depth. Cover with soil and gently firm it down.

Now that you’ve done the necessary preparation, it’s time to plant your bulbs!

1. Dig a large hole in a well-prepared ground. Put the bulbs, tips upwards, at the correct distances apart.
2. When all the bulbs are in position, use your hand to gently draw the soil over them until the ground is level.
3. Press down the soil over the planting area using the back of a rake. Make sure you don’t tread on the soil as this could harm the tips.

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