How to: Plant spring bulbs outside

Bulbs can be planted in our beds to create colourful borders, or in planters and hanging baskets that can be used to create a splash of colour in any space.  The reassurance that, after your hard work in the autumn, you have beautiful blooming displays to look forward to in spring is fantastic, and kids love to be put on “Bulb Watch”, carefully looking for little green buds peeping out from the soil-a sure sign spring is on its way!

What you'll need:

  • Bulbs
  • Shovel, Trowel or Bulb Planter
  • Bone Meal or Superphosphate
  • Water

Step 1
Choose an appropriate location. Most flowering bulbs prefer full sun, but that can be almost anywhere in the spring, before the trees leaf out. So don’t overlook a spot that seems perfect, just because it’s a bit shady in autumn. 

A well-drained soil will prevent the bulbs from rotting in cool weather. 

Step 2
In areas with cold winters, you can plant bulbs as long as the soil is soft enough to dig a hole. However they will have more time to begin growing roots if planted before mid-November.

Step 3
Plant with the pointed side up. The pointed end is the stem. You may even be able to see some shrivelled roots on the flatter side. If you really can't tell, don't worry about it. The stem will find its own way, sooner or later. 

Step 4
Plant bulbs to a depth of about 3 times their diameter.

Step 5
Mix some bone meal or superphosphate into the soil at the bottom of the hole at planting time, to encourage strong root growth. You could mix in some water soluble fertilizer as well, but it’s not necessary if you've already amended your soil. 

Step 6
If rodents tend to eat your bulbs, you can try sprinkling some red pepper in the planting hole. A more secure method is to plant your bulbs in a cage made of hardware cloth. The roots and stems grow through, but the rodents can’t get to the bulbs.

Step 7
Replace the soil on top of the bulbs. Water the bulbs after planting, to help them settle in and close any air pockets. Through autumn and winter, you only need to worry about watering your bulbs if you’re having a particularly dry season. Come spring, you should be well rewarded for all your efforts. 

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