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Planting bulbs at the wrong time of year

We look at the right time to plant spring bulbs

Bulbs do a great job of brightening our gardens in the spring and most are very easy to grow. But with recent figures from the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) showing that nearly half of UK people aren’t sure when to plant them, many could be going to waste.

Which? Gardening reveal their top tips on growing spring bulbs, and when best to buy them and get them in the ground so that you can get the most enjoyment out of your bulbs as possible.


Planted bulbs at the wrong time of year?

A recent survey by the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) revealed that 46% of UK people think that the best time to plant a daffodil is in the spring.

All spring bulbs, such as tulips, daffodils and crocus, should be planted in autumn to give them time to settle in to dormancy. After the winter they’ll start to grow as soon as the ground warms up.

Why grow spring flowering bulbs?

Spring flowering bulbs can be grown in pots, borders or the lawn, and will provide some welcome colour from as early as January, depending on what you choose to grow.

They’re low maintenance and easy to grow too, but one of the best things about them is that they come back year after year for free.

For advice on growing bulbs, read our free factsheet, ‘bulbs in the border’.


Top 5 bulb-buying tips

1. One of the advantages of planning ahead and buying them early is that there are more varieties to choose from, or if you leave it until later in the season means you may be able to snap up a bargain in the sales.

2. Reject bulbs with damaged tips or mould on them.

3. Check postage and packing costs as it can add a lot to a small order.

4. Take or send poor bulbs back for a replacement.

5. Avoid bulbs stored in garden centres in very warm conditions

Top 5 bulb-planting tips

1. For the longest display choose bulbs that flower at different times.

2. Look at the growing height of each variety and position the taller ones behind the shorter ones.

3. Try planting among winter bedding plants or foliage plants.

4. For containers, plant the bulbs in layers to get an even succession of colour.

5. Bulbs prefer free-draining soil, so add grit or gravel to the bottom of containers before planting.

Which? Gardening Best Buy Bulbs

Which? Gardening regularly test new plant and bulb varieties to see how well they perform in the garden. If your garden is in need of a bit more spring colour, we’d recommend our Best Buys tulips and daffodils:

Daffodils – ‘Tweety Bird’, ‘Early Bride, ‘Anniversary Gift’, ‘Golden Echo’.

Tulips – ‘White Marvel’, ‘Matchpoint’, ‘Tennessee’, ‘Juliette’.

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